But ProPublica decided to swing at Thomas again, hitting him with this nonsensical line that Supreme Court justices can’t go on vacation with friends. There’s one problem: it’s riddled with errors. Thomas is said to have been galivanting on this luxury yacht, but the sitting justice was never on it when it was taken to sea. He had a tour of the boat, which never left the dock. The whole ‘boat trip’ lasted 30 minutes. There were luxurious golf club invitations offered to Mr. Thomas, who doesn't play golf and rejected the invite—things ProPublica omitted (via WSJ):
ProPublica is at it again. On Aug. 10 the website, which styles itself “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force,” published its latest hit piece against my friend Justice Clarence Thomas. The article focuses on three friends of Justice Thomas—Tony Novelly, David Sokol and Wayne Huizenga—and gets significant facts wrong.
The story makes much of Mr. Novelly’s 126-foot yacht, the Le Montrachet, which he takes on fishing expeditions in the Bahamas. ProPublica claims to have found that Justice Thomas took “a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas.” Justice Thomas tells me he has never seen this yacht and hasn’t been to the Bahamas since the 1980s, before he joined the high court. A senior official with the Novelly organization confirmed that its records show Justice Thomas was never a passenger on any yacht owned by Mr. Novelly.
Mr. Novelly co-owned a different yacht, the Daybreak, with Mr. Sokol. That boat was docked at Mr. Sokol’s home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when Justice Thomas visited in 2018. Mr. Sokol and Justice Thomas have both confirmed that Justice Thomas walked onto the boat, got a tour of the engine room, and left within 30 minutes. Mr. Novelly wasn’t there, and the boat never left the dock. That’s the only time he has set foot on a boat owned by Mr. Novelly.
As for Mr. Huizenga, ProPublica reports that in the early 2000s he “gave Thomas something that was priceless at the time: a standing invitation to his exclusive, members-only golf club”—but leaves out that Justice Thomas, who doesn’t play golf, declined the invitation. His only connection to the club is that he visited once a year, no more than five times in total, to have lunch with Mr. Huizenga when he traveled to Florida to visit Ginni Thomas’s parents, who lived in the Sunshine State. Justice Thomas’s in-laws came along for the lunches.
ProPublica also finds a scandal in Justice Thomas’s attending a University of Nebraska football game with Mr. Sokol and sitting in a suite hosted by former Nebraska coach and athletic director Tom Osborne. The reporters cite a “typical” suite’s annual price tag, $40,000, and quote an “ethics expert” saying that Justice Thomas should have reported this ticket as a gift. But the price of a ticket has nothing to do with the price of a suite.
The ticket price for Justice Thomas’s seats at this game was $65, based on information provided by the Nebraska Athletic Department.