Calmes: Clarence Thomas’ Jan. 6 conflicts of interest are showing again
In a new round of the Clarence Thomas battle, the former Supreme Court member who was accused of having a conflict of interest and has denied any wrongdoing is now under scrutiny.
On Tuesday, Thomas, appointed in 1991 and appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003, is scheduled to give a talk with Georgetown University Law Center about the importance of free expression, and has said he will not participate in the discussion of a political party.
The conference has been targeted by Thomas’ critics, including conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The panel, which features many former federal and lower court judges, also includes the current chair of the Senate Judicial Committee, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island.
Thomas spokesman Matt Miller said Tuesday that the former justice will participate in the discussion.
But another statement from Thomas’ lawyers, published at the website of Thomas’ legal firm, Thomas and O’Malley, alleges that Whitehouse and Thomas had an “ongoing,” undisclosed personal relationship while Whitehouse was deputy attorney general in 1991.
The statement also claims Thomas has “a conflict of interest” because he was on his way to the hearing when Whitehouse was appointed to the DC Circuit bench.
Whitehouse defended his record at the Justice Department, saying, in a statement, “I have never had a personal relationship, either in my personal or official capacity, with a current nominee to the Supreme Court.”
The conference and conference panels are likely to be an opportunity for critics of Thomas’ legal work over the past few years to air their complaints.
In July 2010, Thomas was accused of improperly donating funds to political groups. The complaint by former Labor Department official Richard Balfe, which Thomas responded to with a letter saying he had given the money to an organization with which he had worked, and the donation was “not part of any agreement, arrangement, understanding, arrangement, commitment, promise, understanding, or agreement” between Balfe and Thomas, was considered the start of the public controversy.
Thomas denied there was an agreement and said he will not appear at a hearing that will determine his eligibility for a Supreme Court seat.
In an interview with The Boston Globe this month, Thomas denied the accusations and said, “They’re based on anonymous