ProPublica continues to share a never-ending river of Clarence Thomas' selling his influence. Today reveals that Thomas attended at least two Koch Network fundraisers, an infamous organization that has brought some cases before the Supreme Court. Thomas, as usual, has failed to report the paid-for travel or any indication that he was a fundraising draw for the political organization.
In addition to becoming a screaming example of what conservatives once called "judicial activism," Thomas has perhaps set himself up to be one of the most obviously corrupt figures in American politics since Teapot Dome.
But the code of conduct only applies to the lower courts. At the Supreme Court, justices decide what's appropriate for themselves.
"I can't imagine — it takes my breath away, frankly — that he would go to a Koch network event for donors," said John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush. Jones said that if he had gone to a Koch summit as a district court judge, "I'd have gotten a letter that would've commenced a disciplinary proceeding."
"What you're seeing is a slow creep toward unethical behavior. Do it if you can get away with it," Jones said.
The Koch network is among the largest and most influential political organizations of the last half century, and it's underwritten a far-reaching campaign to influence the course of American law. In a case the Supreme Court will hear this coming term, the justices could give the network a historic victory: limiting federal agencies' power to issue regulations in areas ranging from the environment to labor rights to consumer protection. After shepherding the case to the court, Koch network staff attorneys are now asking the justices to overturn a decades-old precedent. (Thomas used to support the precedent but flipped his position in recent years.)