After exposing Clarence Thomas for accepting hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in gifts from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow a while back, ProPublica is out with another bombshell report on the corrupt conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court. Samuel Alito is in the barrel this time for accepting an unreported luxury Alaskan fishing trip on the dime of GOP megadonor and hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer:
Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way.
In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund came before the court at least 10 times in cases where his role was often covered by the legal press and mainstream media. In 2014, the court agreed to resolve a key issue in a decade-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina. Alito did not recuse himself from the case and voted with the 7-1 majority in Singer’s favor. The hedge fund was ultimately paid $2.4 billion…
In light of that hefty return, Singer’s investment in Alito’s stay at a fishing lodge for the rich and famous is a pitifully small bribe. No wonder he’s a hedge fund billionaire.
Before publishing their story, ProPublica gave Alito a chance to respond. He ignored them and published a whiny rebuttal in the WSJ instead, where he claims that he didn’t even know this rich fishing guy owned those hedge fund thingies, okay? Also, he wasn’t obligated to report the trip because shut up, that’s why.
Here’s a WSJ gift link if you’re interested in Alito’s snippy obfuscations and huffy denials. But you can get the flavor of it by recalling his outraged sotto voce “not true!” exclamation during President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, after Obama correctly predicted the court’s corrupt Citizens United ruling would “open the floodgates for special interests.”
When he’s busted publicly, Alito blusters and demands deference. It’s a tell. More from ProPublica:
Experts said they could not identify an instance of a justice ruling on a case after receiving an expensive gift paid for by one of the parties.
“If you were good friends, what were you doing ruling on his case?” said Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor and leading expert on recusals. “And if you weren’t good friends, what were you doing accepting this?” referring to the flight on the private jet…
Leonard Leo, the longtime leader of the conservative Federalist Society, attended and helped organize the Alaska fishing vacation. Leo invited Singer to join, according to a person familiar with the trip, and asked Singer if he and Alito could fly on the billionaire’s jet. Leo had recently played an important role in the justice’s confirmation to the court. Singer and the lodge owner were both major donors to Leo’s political groups.
Read the ProPublica piece for much, much more, including a brief account of a third GOP megadonor who hosted Alito and Scalia on separate Alaska trips more than 15 years ago at a luxury commercial fishing lodge. The common thread is Federalist Society major domo Leonard Leo.
Leo is the pimp in this long-term vice operation that subverts a branch of the U.S. government, peddling corrupt conservative judges to GOP megadonor sugar daddies. It’s gross, and everyone who is involved should resign, but they won’t. I’m not sure if the Dems on the judiciary committee can turn up the heat on this scandal since their majority depends on the precarious health of an 89-year-old senator.
At least we know about it, thanks to ProPublica’s old-fashioned shoe leather reporting. I threw them a few quid to thank them. They take donations here if you’re interested.