Emails obtained by American Oversight and reported on by Politico suggest that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has communicated regularly with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The records raise further questions about Justice Thomas’ ethics decisions, including regarding the work of his wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas.
On June 10, 2021, Ginni Thomas reached out to DeSantis’ scheduling office to invite him to speak to a “coalition” of “conservative patriots.” Thomas explained that the governor would know her because she had interviewed him for the Daily Caller years before and saw him at a Trump White House state dinner. She also added that her “husband has been in contact with him too on various things of late.”
Ginni Thomas said the “cone of silence coalition” of “about 83 national leaders” was formerly known as Groundswell and included former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows among its attendees. The group, now called the Third Century Group, was focused on “the greatest threats and opportunities to constitutional governance,” Thomas wrote, “and admittedly we are weary about the GOP divisions, lack of courage and lack of leadership.” Thomas also wrote that the group met “through the help of [conservative organization] Judicial Watch.”
DeSantis was eventually scheduled to present during the group’s July 21 virtual meeting. According to an email from Thomas Binion, a vice president at the Heritage Foundation who was planning to introduce the governor at the meeting, DeSantis was invited to speak “about whatever is on his mind in terms of national politics” and the attendees were “very concerned about [critical race theory], election integrity and immigration.”
Ginni Thomas has recently been the subject of intense scrutiny regarding her work on behalf of conservative issues that have come before the Supreme Court. A recent report by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer highlighted concerns about her political activism and Justice Thomas’ failure to recuse himself on certain matters, especially as the court hears increasingly politically polarized cases. Ginni Thomas, who runs a political lobbying firm and is involved in numerous right-wing advocacy efforts, has warned of the threat of the “fascist left” and was among the conservatives who signed a letter criticizing the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Justice Thomas was also the only Supreme Court justice to support Trump’s request to block that committee from accessing White House records.
Ginni Thomas’s email does not indicate what topics had been discussed by Justice Thomas and DeSantis.
Politico reached out to DeSantis’ office about the emails, but did not receive a response. The executive director of the Republican Party of Florida said, “I can’t speak about any private conversations Governor DeSantis may or may not have had with anyone but both he and Justice Thomas believe in the separation of powers and defend individual liberty, the law and the Constitution as written.”
American Oversight is investigating the influence of far-right networks on the government. For more information, visit our investigation page on threats to democracy.