Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report nearly $700,000 of his wife's income from a conservative foundation during a four-year span, according to a government watchdog.
cited IRS records from the Heritage Foundation that that show the think tank paid Virginia Thomas
$686,589 between 2003 and 2007. Clarence Thomas did not note the earnings in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years. Where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed, the justice checked the box next to "none," the watchdog said.
Virginia Thomas was also paid by Liberty Central, a conservative political action group she co-founded in 2009. That income was also not noted by her husband, according to Common Cause.
Clarence Thomas, as a federal official, is required to disclose his spouse's income under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.
Common Cause said it discovered the gaps in the records while researching potential conflicts of interest in Citizens United, last year's landmark Supreme Court decision concerning political spending by corporations and unions.
The Thomases have not commented, and neither have officials at the Supreme Court.
Steven Lubet, a judicial ethics expert at Northwestern University School of Law, told The Los Angeles Times
that Clarence Thomas' apparent violation was unlikely to result in a penalty.
Failure to disclose spousal income "is not a crime of any sort, but there is a potential civil penalty," for failing to follow the rules, Lubet told the newspaper.
The Times noted that in most cases, judges amend the financial disclosure paperwork when an error is discovered.