The allure of the RV/Motorhome life escapes me. I recall my dad giving my mom a hard time by pretending that he wanted to buy a Winnebago. She was horrified and said, “That’s not my idea of a vacation. It’s like camping. Since when do you like camping?” That’s when he revealed he was busting her chops and I could laugh. It was some funny shit.
Justice Clarence Thomas loves the RV/Motorhome life. He owns a Prevost Le Mirage XL Marathon, which he paid $267,230 for in 1999. He claimed to have scrimped and saved to purchase his dream home on wheels. I think you know where this is leading. According to a report in the NYT, Thomas borrowed the money from a health care tycoon, Anthony Welters.
This is a different form of corruption. It doesn’t involve influence peddling, it involves cronyism. Thomas and Welters met when they were young Black Republicans and have remained friends. The transaction should have been reported but it was not. There are levels of corruption: this doesn’t rise to the Harlan Crow level, but it still stinks like an overflowing septic tank. Yuck.
Welters has been cagey about the details of the alleged loan, which smells like a gift to the grifting Justice. A gift of that size must be reported on financial disclosure forms and to the IRS as taxable income.
“Here is what I can share. Twenty-five years ago, I loaned a friend money, as I have other friends and family. We’ve all been on one side or the other of that equation. He used it to buy a recreational vehicle, which is a passion of his.” Roughly nine years later, “the loan was satisfied,” Mr. Welters added. He subsequently sent The Times a photograph of the original title bearing his signature and a handwritten “lien release” date of Nov. 22, 2008.”
Satisfied is a flexible term in this context. It could mean the loan was paid off or that the debt was forgiven. Welters isn’t talking and the justice has reverted to his Silent Clarence persona. His lip is zipped and Ginni isn’t talking either. I wonder if she’s texted Mark Meadows recently…
Simply put, Clarence Thomas’ goal in life was to be rich, not on the Supreme Court. But he’s leveraged his lifetime appointment to live like a tycoon, not a judge. In this instance, he’s not depending on the kindness of strangers but of an old friend. Ironically, Welters left his youthful Republicanism behind and has become a Democratic donor. His wife Beatrice was appointed ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago by President Obama. Nice work if you can get it.
Scratch a right-wing Republican and you’ll uncover major hypocrisy. Thomas claims that his RV fetish proves that he’s a man of the people:
He also parks it at Harlan Crow’s sumptuous mountain crib. Methinks the Justice is a grifter, schnorrer, and a guy who never picks up the check.
When I read the latest expose, I rejoiced because it meant that one of my favorite Senators, Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse would appear on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
What’s not to love about a droll liberal? Whitehouse has been beating the SCOTUS ethics drum for years and his efforts are starting to pay off. He’s still willing to let SCOTUS clean up its own act but he’s skeptical that Chief Justice Roberts will act. He has his own ethical challenges, after all.
Since I put her in the title, you might be wondering where Ginni Thomas fits into this story. Other than riding shotgun in the family’s luxury motorhome, her fingerprints aren’t all over this scandal. She does, however, have blue eyes and Going Mobile was the B-Side of this single by The Who:
The last word goes to The Who: