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That Republican Billionaire Who Gifted Millions To Justice Clarence Thomas? He Collects Nazi Memorabilia!

Clarence Thomas Billionaire Donor Harlan Crow Nazi Memorabilia

Well, this scandal just took a super dark turn!

OK, so we don’t usually cover the Supreme Court — but let’s be honest, every once in a while they sink so low it’s in our court. This seems like one of those times. To recap: a bombshell article in ProPublica late last week showed how Justice Clarence Thomas had been on the receiving end of a heck of a lot of generosity from a Republican megadonor. Let’s get into it…

Too Close & Not Disclosed

The outlet reported that billionaire Harlan Crow has been treating Clarence and his wife Ginni Thomas to luxury vacations over the years without ever disclosing them. Nominally, these are vacations together with Crow as friends — but it’s always on Crow’s dime. And by dime, we mean MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. You know that moment on the The Price Is Right where the contestants have to figure out how much the prize vacation is worth, all in? Well, ProPublica did the math, and just one of these trips, in 2019, would have cost about $500,000. And these have been going on for two decades now! Trips around the world on a superyacht, to Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks, to an all-male retreat in California called the Bohemian Grove. Who knows how many millions Thomas has been gifted over the years?

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Now, Thomas makes very good money as a Supreme Court Justice — $285k a year. But there’s no way he could afford any of this! This is billionaire stuff. And it isn’t just trips. In 2011 Politico reported Crow donated a half million bucks to a Tea Party group created by Ginni Thomas — through that group she paid herself a salary of $120k a year. So to say she, at least, is in Crow’s pocket is just speaking plainly.

Weak Defense For A Judge…

How does Justice Thomas respond? Well, he admits all of the facts are correct — he just doesn’t think there’s anything untoward about it. He said in an official statement he’s never disclosed any of these generosities because he didn’t think he had to:

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable. I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines.”

ProPublica spoke to multiple experts who disagreed — this may actually have violated a law passed in the aftermath of Watergate. But it’s actually a lot simpler than all that. It’s the highest court in the land, and the rule when it comes to conflict of interest is there can’t even be the appearance of corruption, not even a whiff of impropriety. And you don’t have to be an expert to see that someone giving a Justice millions in value under the table has more than a whiff. We mean, these two didn’t become “friends” until after Thomas was in his current position. And at the very least, by sidling up to the man and taking him on all these vacations, he’s at least purchased the chance to voice his opinions directly to a Supreme Court Justice, which is a hell of a lot more than any poor person gets. It’s pretty obviously sketchy. Especially coming from a donor with some very, shall we say, specific political ideals…

Who Is Crow, Really?

Crow has donated at least $10 million in actual honest-to-goodness, on-the-books donations to Republicans over the years. That isn’t counting yacht tours of the South Pacific. He’s donated to everyone from Mitch McConnell to Lindsey Graham, from Chuck Grassley to John Kennedy. Heck, he even donated thousands to former Democrat Krysten Sinema.

But it turns out he’s not just an anti-tax billionaire. He’s also a big history aficionado.

According to a new report in The Washingtonian over the weekend — citing an article from back in 2014 in which a Dallas Morning News reporter visited his Texas estate, as well as an anonymous partygoer who reportedly saw all of this in person and even provided photos which you can see HERE — Crow has quite a collection, including:

  • a garden full of statues of dictators, ones which he’d collected after they’d been toppled — including Lenin, Stalin, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Josip Broz Tito
  • a bevy of Nazi memorabilia, including medals, patches, Hitler stamps, and embroidered linen napkins (a photo of which was taken while they were on display with at a dinner party — it’s unclear if they were being used)
  • two of Hitler’s very own original paintings — if you didn’t know he was something of a failed artist before getting into the genocide game
  • a copy of Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, signed by the author himself

Remember, this isn’t a public museum, this is the man’s home. This stuff is in the house where he lives! After the article came out, a tech researcher named Danah Boyd corroborated the anonymous source’s claim, saying she too went to the house as part of “a meeting about the future of democracy.” She wrote on Twitter

“Indeed Crow’s house had statues of fallen dictators. I was told that all these items were war trophies to commemorate how the “good guys” won. But no museum curator I know would glorify such artifacts that way. Hitler’s painting was signed and just hanging on the wall as art.”

She said she left immediately after seeing the Nazi swag — and when she brought it up to others who were at the meeting, her concerns were treated “coldly and defensively” and that she “felt gaslit” and “didn’t attend the next meeting of the group.” She added:

“Years later, I still shudder thinking about the Nazi uniform decorations in Harlan Crow’s house. And the painting. And the book. And the statues. And the “antebellum” (pro slavery) artifacts. I’m glad others are questioning the acceptability of those materials.”

Who would collect Nazi treasures like this and lovingly display them in their own home? Well, Nazis for one… Hmm. We’re drawing a blank after that…

Falling At Crow’s Feet

There have been quite a few conservative pundits who have come out in defense of Crow on social media the past couple days — most of whom, it was pretty immediately pointed out, had received some significant financial benefit from the billionaire. But let’s take a look at the most common defense we’ve been seeing, that this is just a student of history who has Nazi memorabilia and dictator statues among his collection.

Well, let’s talk about the garden first. Crow himself said the garden is a “historical nod to the facts of man’s inhumanity to man”. There’s a difference between remembering and honoring. This “Garden of Evil” certainly seems to us to be more in awe of these historical monsters than fear of them. We mean, this guy hates communism and fascism so much he’s spent a small fortune to constantly look at these guys when he’s going for a peaceful walk? Or for that matter when he’s sitting down to dinner?

We mean, seriously, the napkins. And the paintings! Like, it’s one thing to be interested in serial killers and have lots of books and maybe blu-rays of documentaries about them. It’s another to own an original John Wayne Gacy painting — something that you paid thousands of dollars for. That crosses over from interest to… obsession maybe? Crow apparently also has paintings by George W. Bush, as well as historical items from other eras. But there’s a LOT of WWII stuff, and the Nazi stuff is pretty disturbing. The source who shared photos from inside the home told The Washingtonian the visit was pleasant enough — obviously no one fell in a trapdoor and was mauled by a crocodile, despite it looking like a Bond villain’s manor. However, despite the other historical artifacts, even someone who was invited and had a nice time “still can’t get over the collection of Nazi memorabilia.”

The signed Mein Kampf is kind of the crown jewel of disturbing historical memorabilia. It’s not like you have that in order to study what Hitler was up to, like you just want to know your enemy. Any copy of the book would do that. An autographed one? Sorry, people get autographs of people they’re fans of, it’s something they treasure. It just is. It’s WAY creepy.

And frankly we’re past the days of rich weirdos idolizing Hitler feeling like nothing more than cartoonish straw men, the pulpy villains of bad action movies. Not when we have highly rated pundits on 24-hour news networks spreading xenophobic and white supremacist talking points every night. Not when freakin’ Kanye West is going on radio shows saying he likes a lot of what Hitler had to say. Think about it, y’all — someone told him that. The guy who wrote Gold Digger didn’t come to that conclusion on his own. Red pills aren’t thrown from a distance, they’re slipped into delicious dinners and cocktails shared among friends.

We’re sure we’ll never be able to say with certainty that Crow collects this stuff because he just loves him some Nazis. But it’s pretty fair to say most folks who hate Nazis would not want to look at it, would not want to keep it cleaned and posed and displayed in their home.

And this is the guy who’s in the ear and in the wallet of one of only nine members of the highest court in the land. Scary stuff.

[Image via Pepperdine/YouTube.]

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Apr 10, 2023 17:53pm PDT