Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was reportedly paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work, but a conservative activist instructed her name be left off billing paperwork. The person who delivered the money was former White House counsel Kellyanne Conway, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Citing documents reviewed by the newspaper, The Post reported that Leonard Leo, a powerful figure in conservative circles who was the vice president of the Federalist Society, instructed pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a conservative nonprofit group $25,000 and ‘give” the money to Ginni Thomas. “No mention of Ginni, of course,” Leo added to Conway of the payment for Thomas.
Conway then billed the group, the Judicial Education Project, that day, citing “supplement for constitution polling and opinion consulting” as the service.
According to the report, Conway’s firm, The Polling Company, ultimately paid Thomas’ own firm $80,000 from June 2011 to June 2012, with more money to follow. Conway later became a 2016 campaign manager and then White House counselor to Donald Trump.
Leo defended the payments in a statement to the Post, saying it was “no secret that Ginni Thomas has a long history of working on issues within the conservative movement.”
“Part of that work has involved gauging public attitudes and sentiment,” he added. “The work she did here did not involve anything connected with either the Court’s business or with other legal issues.”
Leo added he kept Ginni Thomas’ name off the billing paperwork because he knew “how disrespectful, malicious and gossipy people can be.”
“I have always tried to protect the privacy of Justice Thomas and Ginni,” he said.
The new revelation comes after ProPublica issued a series of shocking reports detailing decades of lavish trips the Thomases received from a billionaire GOP mega-donor, Harlan Crow. The website also reported on a real estate transaction in which Crow purchased three properties from Clarence Thomas and his family members, including a property where the justice’s mother still lives rent-free.
And on Thursday, ProPublica also reported that Crow paid for two years of private school tuition for Thomas’ grandnephew.
Clarence Thomas did not report any of those financial dealings on his federal disclosure forms. After the scandal broke out, Thomas said he didn’t believe he needed to disclose “personal hospitality” from a friend.