Legal experts are responding to bombshell reporting from The Washington Post revealing Ginni Thomas, the spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, for years headed a secretive right-wing activist organization funded through a web of dark money groups, whose purpose was to wage a culture war against the left.
The Post reports the organization, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, took in nearly $600,000 in anonymous funds to fuel its efforts to battle “cultural Marxism,” as Ginni Thomas, who headed the group, called their mission.
Thomas had stepped away from her previous non-profit right-wing activist group “amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court,” The Post says, and yet, she led Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, which creates the same concerns. Where is the money coming from? What is the group doing with it? How much crossover is there between her activism and the group’s targets and efforts, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ work?
According to The Post, in tax filings of its think tank sponsor, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty is described as an “informal, unincorporated nonprofit association which serves as an incubator for ideas across a network of conservative leaders, cultural entrepreneurs, and cultural influences.”
It appears great efforts were made to ensure the donors to Thomas’ Crowdsourcers group would not be able to be publicly identified.
“In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes,” The Post explains.
Thomas, who is reportedly active in another secretive far-right wing group, the Council for National Policy, brought two well-known far-right wing activists from CNP into Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty: former Trump attorney, ally, and advisor Cleta Mitchell, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
The New York Times last year described the Council for National Policy as an organization that “brings together old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.”
But despite all the obvious red flags, an attorney for Ginni Thomas, Mark Paoletta, told The Washington Post she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”
“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta also told The Post.
“There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas,” he claimed.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is also an attorney, responded to The Post’s report by mocking Paoletta’s claim there is no conflict of interest.
“Donors Trust was central to the far-right Court-packing operation, and now they pass secret donor funds to a justice’s spouse, but ‘no plausible conflict of interest’? Please.”
Sen. Whitehouse went on to explain his additional concerns.
“Plus, remember that the secrecy conduits like Donors Trust keep the *public* from knowing what’s happening, but nothing prevents the secret donor from telling the spouse or the justice, ‘Hey, that money that secretly came through to you — that’s me.'”
Adam Smith, Vice President for Democracy Initiatives at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), observed: “Seems like the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice shouldn’t be able to hide the source of huge donations that could be from people with business before the court.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas’ Attempts to Influence Overturn of Election Even Wider Than Previously Known
CREW’s President, Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor, adds: “Hundreds of thousands in anonymous donations to an activist group led by Ginni Thomas, spouse of a Supreme Court justice, raises all kinds of troubling questions about who could be influencing decisions that affect all of us.”
Attorney and Slate Magazine senior writer covering courts and the law, Mark Joseph Stern, pushed back against any idea the nearly $600,000 funding came from small donations.
“Ginni Thomas’ various political ventures have never had any small/grassroots donors. They have ALWAYS been funded by a handful of ultra-wealthy individuals and organizations who are very obviously trying to curry favor with her husband,” Stern said.
Former White House aide and CNN commentator Keith Boykin, also an attorney, called for Justice Thomas to recuse from certain cases: “If Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had to recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, then Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from all the cases on right-wing issues in which his activist wife, Ginni Thomas, is involved.”