U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden on Tuesday said that “nothing is off the table”—including a subpoena—after a lawyer for Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow continued to duck questions about the billionaire’s gifts to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives.
In a June 2 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Crow attorney Michael Bopp expressed “respect” for the panel’s “important role in formulating legislation concerning our federal courts system,” while stating that he would “welcome a discussion with your staff.”
However, Bopp also reiterated his assertion that “Congress does not have the power to impose ethics standards on the Supreme Court” and “therefore cannot mount an investigation for the purpose of helping craft such standards.”
In response to Bopp’s assertion—which has been roundly refuted by Durbin and legal experts—Wyden, a progressive Oregon Democrat, accused the Gibson Dunn partner of “stonewalling.”
“It comes as little surprise that Mr. Crow is doubling down on bogus legal theories as he continues to stonewall basic questions about his gifts to Clarence Thomas and his family. If anything, the most recent letter from his attorney raises more questions than it answers,” the senator said in a statement.
Harlan Crow continues to stonewall over his gifts to Clarence Thomas. Nothing is off the table as I discuss next steps with my Finance Committee colleagues to compel answers to our questions from Mr. Crow, including by subpoena. Those discussions will continue. https://t.co/0CG6at3cL0
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 6, 2023
“The letter states, ‘charter rates or reimbursements at rates prescribed by law were paid to the Crow family entities’ with zero additional detail that could help clarify these financial arrangements, such as exactly who made those payments for Justice Thomas’ extravagant luxury travel, and how many times and in what amounts those payments were made,” Wyden continued.
“Far too often, efforts to investigate real-life tax practices of the ultra-wealthy and powerful end with this kind of vague, carefully-worded assurance that everything is on the level. That’s simply not good enough,” he argued. “This is exactly why the Finance Committee is pursuing this matter as part of its broader review of gift and estate tax practices of ultra-high net worth individuals.”
Wyden added: “I’ve already begun productive discussions with the Finance Committee on next steps to compel answers to our questions from Mr. Crow, including by subpoena, and those discussions will continue.”