Justice Clarence Thomas, McConnell Center
Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo credit: McConnell Center / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Senate Finance Committee has yet more questions for Clarence Thomas.

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If you are living on a government salary but would like to enjoy the finer things in life, why not follow the Clarence Thomas model? Simply find yourself a wealthy friend (or several, in the case of the Supreme Court justice), “borrow” a quarter-million dollars from him, and later have that benefactor conveniently forgive the “loan.”

Apparently, you don’t even need to list this kind of thing on any government disclosure forms. After all, if an esteemed, incorruptible justice like Thomas felt that wasn’t necessary, then it must be on the up-and-up, right?

But, guess what — those squares from the Senate Finance Committee don’t think so.

Now they are daring to question Thomas, a beacon of virtue, how it is possible that he received a “loan” of $267,230 from one of his billionaire buddies and only ever paid back the annual interest but not any of the principal… at least not according to the documents the committee staff reviewed.

If this were how loans worked, Americans would have a lot less credit card debt:

Dear Customer, 

American Express would like to inform you that, in light of all of that interest you have been paying us over the past decade, you no longer have to pay the principal on the jacuzzi you purchased from WhirlpoolsRUs in 2012. Requiring anything more would just be unfair.

Why can’t the Finance Committee just leave Thomas alone and let him monetize his position on the Supreme Court? Give the man a break. All he wants to do is write decisions that set back progress in the United States by 50 years while also living a lavish lifestyle funded by billionaire pals who have business before the court.

Instead, now those do-gooders are stirring up even more trouble for Thomas.

See, as it turns out, when somebody forgives a loan, that actually counts as income and should therefore be reported on an income tax return.

And it’s not so clear that Thomas did that. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to people who have been following his exploits. As it turns out, he frequently “forgets” to list items on his financial disclosure forms that should have been included.

To be fair, it’s tough to keep track of all of the favors Thomas has received. And who has time to fill out forms when one is always taking billionaire-funded trips or driving around in a fancy motorhome that, as we now know, a friend paid for?

However, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) sees things a bit differently.

“Regular Americans don’t get wealthy friends to forgive huge amounts of debt so they can buy a second home,” Wyden said in response to these latest disclosures. “Justice Thomas should inform the committee exactly how much debt was forgiven and whether he properly reported the loan forgiveness on his tax returns and paid all taxes owed.”

Well, maybe all Americans should have friends like this. It’s not as though those moneybags are paying taxes.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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