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Attorney for Justice Clarence Thomas Challenges Senate

In a recent development, an attorney representing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has refuted the assertions made by Senate Democrats concerning a loan used to acquire a luxury motorcoach.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a memorandum on Wednesday detailing the committee’s investigation into a loan agreement between Justice Thomas and Tony Welters, an arrangement initially reported by The New York Times in August. The committee’s staff scrutinized documents related to the loan and concluded that Justice Thomas “did not repay a significant portion of the loan principal” and had only made interest payments on the $267,230 debt.

The memorandum suggested that the documents reviewed by the committee, which were provided by Welters, indicated that the loan for the motorcoach had been forgiven. However, Justice Thomas’s lawyer issued a statement countering this claim.

“The loan was never forgiven. Any suggestion to the contrary is false. The Thomases made all payments to Mr. Welters on a regular basis until the terms of the agreement were satisfied in full,” stated Elliot Burke, representing Justice Thomas.

When contacted for further comments, Senator Wyden reiterated the committee’s findings and called on Justice Thomas to provide evidence that substantiates his attorney’s statement.

“The committee’s investigation is clear: The individual who loaned Justice Thomas $267,000 provided numerous documents indicating that a substantial portion of that debt was never repaid,” Senator Wyden stated.

“If Justice Thomas disputes that conclusion, he has an obligation to provide proof to the committee. Carefully worded statements from high-priced lawyers are not a substitute for facts,” he added.

The memorandum acknowledged that additional documents related to the loan agreement might exist and provide further clarity, but none of the documents reviewed by the committee indicated that Justice Thomas had made payments to Welters exceeding the annual interest on the loan.

According to a handwritten note on Supreme Court stationery dated December 6, 1999, Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, committed to repay Welters the $267,230 loan with an annual interest rate of 7.5 percent. The agreement stipulated that the money was to be repaid within five years.

The memorandum disclosed that Justice Thomas had made at least one payment of $20,042.23 in 2000, which roughly equated to the interest on the loan. In 2004, an addendum to the agreement extended the loan’s due date to 2014.

Welters informed Justice Thomas in a handwritten note in 2008 that he would no longer seek additional payments because he believed the justice had paid interest exceeding the purchase price of the bus, according to the committee’s findings.

However, nine years of payments based solely on the annual interest rate would total approximately $180,380, significantly below the loan principal.

The memorandum also highlighted that forgiven or canceled debt is considered income for tax purposes, and it pointed out that Justice Thomas did not include forgiven debt on his 2008 financial disclosures.

Senator Wyden stated his intention to share these findings with the Judiciary Committee.

“Today the committee has the answer to one of the pressing questions raised by reporting about his arrangement with Justice Thomas — was the loan ever repaid? Now we know that Justice Thomas had up to $267,230 in debt forgiven and never reported it on his ethics forms,” Senator Wyden stated.

“Justice Thomas should inform the committee exactly how much debt was forgiven and whether he properly reported the loan forgiveness on his tax returns and paid all taxes owed,” he added.

It’s worth noting that Justice Clarence Thomas has previously discussed his travels in a motorhome, including in a 2001 clip where he mentioned driving his own motorhome for about a year and a half. Additionally, a clip from a documentary, highlighted by ProPublica earlier this year, revealed his preference for RV parks and Walmart parking lots over beach vacations.

Justice Thomas has faced increased scrutiny in recent months following reports from ProPublica that unveiled his receipt of luxury trips from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow without reporting them on financial disclosure forms. Another report from ProPublica later revealed that Justice Thomas had not disclosed a real estate deal he made with Crow in 2014.

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