On MSNBC's Disrupt, Eric Boehlert Shows How Ginni Thomas Is "Point Person" In Right-Wing "Misinformation Campaign"
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New Mother Jones Report Indicates Second Amendment, Voting Rights Conflicts
Among the many connections between right-wing media and the conservative legal movement as revealed in Mother Jones' report on Groundswell, the leading participation of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas' wife on issues that may be before the Supreme Court raises significant conflict of interest concerns.
Virginia "Ginni" Thomas has not been shy about her tea party activism on topics that come before Justice Thomas and present a clear conflict, pursuant to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. However, because Supreme Court Justices refuse to be bound by these rules of ethics, Justice Thomas continues to participate in decisions that his wife is involved in through her right-wing advocacy, activism that in some cases is paid.
The recent Groundswell memoranda obtained by David Corn of Mother Jones reveal that these conflicts are getting worse.
Ginni Thomas was the founder and leader of Liberty Central, a political nonprofit "dedicated to opposing what she characterizes as the leftist 'tyranny' of President Obama and Democrats in Congress." The group was funded by Harlan Crow, frequent patron of the Thomas' projects and causes and a financial supporter of right-wing campaigns such as the "swift boat" attacks on then-presidential candidate John Kerry and the advertising push to confirm President George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominees. Crow also serves on the board of the American Enterprise Institute, whose Edward Blum brought the two most recent attacks on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action before the Supreme Court. Justice Thomas favored Blum's positions against progressive precedent on both civil rights issues.
Ginni Thomas' direction of Liberty Central was heavily criticized in the run-up to the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act because Justice Thomas "was planning to rule on the healthcare law when his wife, a conservative lobbyist, has made so much money challenging the law." As U.S. News & World Report explained, this paid activism continued even after Ginni Thomas stepped down from Liberty Central to form a separate lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting:
[J]ust days after healthcare law was upheld (with Clarence Thomas dissenting), new financial forms show that Thomas's wife, Ginni, continued to rake in a profit from opposing healthcare reforms in 2011--even after she previously came under fire for doing so.
According to Thomas's 2011 financial disclosure report form, filed on May 15 and obtained Friday by Whispers, the Thomas's invested up to $15,000 in the political lobbying firm Liberty Consulting, where Ginni Thomas continues to earn a salary and benefits. The firm lobbied actively against the healthcare law, according to liberal news magazine Mother Jones.
Ginni formed Liberty Consulting after she was criticized for her work at Liberty Central, a non-profit tea party organization that also lobbied against the health care law.
In March of this year, Liberty Central was the subject of a letter sent to the IRS by Common Cause, a nonprofit that works for government accountability. The letter argued that Liberty Central violated the proportionality rule for non-profits because the majority of its activities were designed to help Republican candidates.
Ginni later stepped down from Liberty Central, but her involvement in conservative politics extends beyond these two groups. Among Ginni's former employers is the Heritage Foundation, another vocal critic of the healthcare law. She also currently works as a "special correspondent" for the conservative website The Daily Caller.
In January 2011, Justice Thomas "inadvertently" left out information about his wife's employment, including earnings over the past 13 years that added up to as much as $1.6 million.
A large group of conservative activists and media figures -- including CNN's Erick Erickson and WND.com founder Joseph Farah - have published an open letter to House and Senate Republicans threatening them not to compromise in any way with the "leftist agenda" of the Obama White House and congressional Democrats, as reported by Ari Melber of The Nation. Aside from raising the specter of primary challenges for apostates, the signatories insist that the election actually showed that America is clamoring for conservatism.
According to the letter: "In the House, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest Republican majorities in the past 100 years. You have a mandate to fight for conservative principles that is arguably much broader than the one that narrowly reelected President Barack Obama claims to have for his leftist agenda."
"Arguably." Indeed, one could argue that the reelection of the House Republican majority supersedes both the reelection of the Democratic president and the expansion of the Democratic Senate majority. There are just a few things you have to disregard: logical sense, the hard reality of the tax situation, and the available polling that shows public confidence in Democrats and the White House regarding the so-called "fiscal cliff."
When right-wing journalist Tucker Carlson launched The Daily Caller along with a former aide to Dick Cheney and a multimillion dollar bankroll from a big-time GOP donor, Carlson insisted that the Caller would not be a right-wing site. That's always been one of the most hilarious of Carlson's many absurd claims, as today's announcement that the Caller has hired Ginni Thomas reminds us:
Long-time Washington policy leader Ginni Thomas, the founder of the group Liberty Central, has agreed to join The Daily Caller.
As The Daily Caller's special correspondent, Thomas will interview key political and community leaders -- from high-profile politicians to grassroots activists -- with a focus on listening to those outside the Beltway.
Thomas draws on a wide range of experiences. She's worked in the public sector, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. Before founding Liberty Central, Thomas opened Hillsdale College's Washington office and was with The Heritage Foundation for nearly 10 years as a director of government relations and senior fellow. Prior to that, she worked for years as a high-level Congressional aide.
The Caller's announcement didn't make this clear, but Liberty Central is a tea party group, and Thomas' experience as a "high-level Congressional aide" was on the Republican side of the aisle. Oh, and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was recently caught failing to disclose nearly $700,000 in income Ginni Thomas received from the right-wing Heritage Foundation. I guess those are the kinds of things you leave out if you want to pretend you aren't a right-wing website while hiring a longtime right-wing activist as a "correspondent."