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Ginni Thomas laid the groundwork for a nonprofit two months before the 2010 Citizens United ruling, Politico reported.The nonprofit was started with the help of Leonard Leo and funding from Harlan Crow.The nonprofit became the start of a “billion-dollar” network that moved money to conservative legal causes.
Leonard Leo, a conservative activist, and Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, banded together to create a nonprofit organization that would take advantage of the new rules on political spending put forth by the Citizens United ruling.
A lawyer for Thomas filed paperwork to begin the process of establishing the nonprofit two months before the 2010 ruling that allowed corporations to funnel money into nonprofits as long as they were independent of political candidates, Politico reported.
Thomas eventually founded the organization, which they called Liberty Central, with a $500,000 donation from Harlan Crow, a close friend of the Thomases whose lavish gifts for them have come under scrutiny. Leo, a bulwark for rightwing causes whose sprawling network has boosted conservative legal causes for over a decade and who is currently under federal investigation, was listed as a director of the organization.
“Ginni really wanted to build an organization and be a movement leader,” an unnamed person familiar with the two told Politico. “Leonard [Leo] was going to be the conduit of that.”
The organization was described as the beginning of a “billion-dollar force that has helped remake the judiciary and overturn longstanding legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action, and many other issues,” Politico reported.
After Thomas’ role with Liberty Central became public, it sparked outrage because of her husband’s seat on the Supreme Court, Politico reported. Thomas eventually started a for-profit consulting business, Liberty Consulting, to offer consulting services for conservative activist groups. Meanwhile, Leo revived a tax-exempt charitable group, which supplied some funds to Thomas. The group, the Judicial Education Project, became a frequent supplier of amicus briefs to the Supreme Court.
Among the other details Politico uncovered, which included discrepancies in IRS filings from Judicial Education Project, Laura Soloman, a Pennsylvania tax attorney, told Politico that it is unclear if Thomas was executing tasks to justify the payments from the charitable organization.
“The real question then is, ‘What is Ginni Thomas qualified to do, what did they pay her to do, and was it fair market value?'” Soloman told Politico.
Representatives for Thomas and Leo did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.