Harlan Crow Reportedly Paid Pricey Tuition for Justice Clarence Thomas’ Nephew
No price tag is too high with a friend like this.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas may have had over $150,000 worth of private school expenses for his nephew, Mark Martin, covered by the company of billionaire real estate magnate and dear friend Harlan Crow.
ProPublica reported Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin at six years old and moved the boy in with him and his wife in Washington, D.C., to raise him as a son. As a teen, Thomas enrolled the child in Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in northern Georgia.
A bank statement from Hidden Lake filed in 2009 showed a wire payment to the school for “Mark Martin,” paid by Crow Holdings LLC, for the exact tuition amount of $6,200. According to Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at the school, who had access to school financial information, “Harlan picked up the tab” for Thomas.
The payments extended beyond the month reflected on the bank statement.
“Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,” Grimwood stated, referring to a second boarding school Martin attended in Virginia, Crow’s alma mater, which has an estimated annual price tag between $25,000 to $30,000.
Although Thomas reported a gift of $5,000 for Martin’s education from another source, the tuition payments from Crow were never indicated on his annual financial disclosures.
“You can’t be having secret financial arrangements,” said Mark W. Bennett, a former federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Martin, who is now in his 30s, said he was unaware of Crow’s tuition payments. “I think his intentions behind everything is just a friend and just a good person,” Martin said. Crow’s office confirmed that Thomas never requested support for either of Martin’s schools.
The Crows “are among our dearest friends,” Thomas said regarding previous gifts of luxury trips that he understood were unnecessary to disclose. In addition to decades of expensive travel, Crow allegedly paid money in an undisclosed real estate deal, footed renovation bills for the property that is reportedly the home where Thomas’ mother lives, and was a major donor to Thomas’ wife’s political group, where she collected a $120,000 salary.
“This is way outside the norm,” said Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. Ethics law experts told ProPublica Thomas may have been required by law to report the tuition.