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Thomas attended fundraisers for conservative political group, ProPublica report says

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building last year.
Alex Wong
/
Getty Images
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building last year.

New conflict of interest allegations have surfaced about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In a lengthy article published on Friday, ProPublica reports that Thomas over the years has maintained a close relationship with the Koch network, one of the largest and most influential political organizations in the country, and that the justice, on at least two occasions, spoke at fundraising events for the conservative organization.

According to ProPublica, Thomas has at least twice been brought in to speak at private dinners for large donors to the Koch network. That put him in what ProPublica called "the extraordinary position" of having served as "a fundraising draw" for a network that has repeatedly brought cases before the Supreme Court.

In 2021, one of the Koch entities, Americans for Prosperity, successfully challenged state laws that required nonprofits to disclose the identity of their large donors. And this year, the network is supporting a challenge to a longstanding Supreme Court regulatory precedent.

Thomas did not recuse himself from the 2021 case, nor is there any indication he will recuse himself from this term's case, a challenge to a nearly 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent, Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, in which the justices ruled unanimously that courts should defer to a federal agency's interpretation of an ambiguous statute as long as that interpretation is "reasonable."

The newest report is the latest in a series about Thomas from ProPublica spotlighting conflict-of-interest allegations that include undisclosed luxury travel and gifts paid for by a billionaire GOP megadonor.

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Nina Totenberg
Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.