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Thursday, November 02, 2023

Justice Thomas's Gilded Motorcoach

My new essay in The Washington Monthly unpacks the latest revelations of Justice Thomas’s gifted life, this time it’s about his luxury land yacht. Here is the gist:

When it comes to generating scandals, Justice Thomas is a traditionalist. It’s always the cover-up.

The latest concealment relates to his 1999 purchase of a luxury motorcoach financed by a wealthy benefactor. It was an unusual arrangement that ultimately amounted to a substantial gift, perhaps even taxable income, never disclosed on Thomas’s annual reports. 

There are different ways of characterizing the financial benefit to Thomas—as a gift from a friend, as Welters might put it, or, as the Internal Revenue Service regulations would put it, as taxable income. Either way, it should have been included in Thomas’s 2008 disclosure statement. 

This time, there is no possible excuse. Thomas was obviously aware that he paid less than the full amount of principal and interest on his loan from Welters, as the documentation clearly shows. His attorney insists that “the loan was never forgiven” because “the terms of the agreement were satisfied in full.” That is what lawyers call a distinction without a difference. The changes in the loan terms, no matter how satisfactory to Welters, nonetheless should, by law, have been reported as either income or a gift. 

You can read the entire piece in The Washington Monthly.

Posted by Steve Lubet on November 2, 2023 at 07:57 PM | Permalink


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