LM Otero, File/AP
- Texas real estate magnate Harlan Crow provided lavish vacations to Justice Clarence Thomas.
- Crow made his money rebuilding his father’s lucrative real estate development companies.
- He’s donated millions to Republican causes over the years.
According to investigative news outlet ProPublica, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has repeatedly gone on luxurious vacations with billionaire real estate magnate and GOP megadonor, Harlan Crow, without ever disclosing them.
The report noted that Thomas has accepted trips on Crow’s private jet and superyacht for more than two decades.
So who is Harlan Crow? How did he make his money?
Born in 1949 in Dallas, Texas, Crow is a 74-year-old real estate developer and the chairman of Crow Holdings, a Dallas-based real estate development and investment firm that was started by his father, Trammell Crow. According to Crow Holdings’ website, the company manages more than $16 billion in assets.
Before his death in 2009, Trammell Crow was once one of the nation’s most prominent real estate developers and landlords. Despite his father’s success, the company was close to bankruptcy until Harlan took over and “restructured the debt, sold off assets, and rebuilt the family’s riches,” according to a Wall Street Journal profile.
Harlan Crow’s exact net worth is unknown, and he doesn’t appear on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. That said, he’s commonly referred to as a billionaire in the media. He’s also spent extravagantly, including buying a home in Dallas for $55 million in 2014 and renovating it with 77-car underground garage, and has spent $25 million building the largest privately-owned bell tower, standing at 288 feet, right outside his office in Dallas.
What’s his relationship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?
Crow met and became friends with Thomas after he had already become a Supreme Court justice. Since then, Crow’s done many favors for the judge, according to a 2011 New York Times piece, such as financing $500,000 for his Ginni’s Tea Party-related group and funding a library project dedicated to Thomas. He also donated $105,000 to Thomas’ alma mater, Yale Law School, for the “Justice Thomas Portrait Fund.”
In a statement to ProPublica, Crow said that he and the Supreme Court Justice were “dear friends” and said his vacations and gifts were simply extensions of that relationship.
“The hospitality we have extended to the Thomas’s over the years is no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”
He further added that Thomas and his wife, Ginni, “never asked for any of this hospitality.”
What’s Harlan Crow’s involvement in politics?
Crow sits on the board of a handful of organizations, such as the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and the Supreme Court Historical society.
The real estate magnate’s given more than $10 million in political donations over the years, according to ProPublica, though that number is likely higher as he also donates to groups that keep their donors a secret.
Crow primarily champions and supports Republican causes and legislators, however, he’s also donated thousands to independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.