(Washington) United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips almost every year from Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow for more than two decades without disclosing them on financial reporting forms, claims the ProPublica website.

In a lengthy article published Thursday, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization lists various trips Mr. Thomas took aboard Mr. Crow’s yacht and private jet, as well as at his private resort in the Adirondacks. According to ProPublica, a trip to Indonesia in 2019 could have cost more than US$500,000 had Mr. Thomas chartered the plane and yacht himself.

Supreme Court justices, like other federal judges, are required to file an annual financial disclosure report that asks them to list the gifts they have received.

Why Mr. Thomas omitted these trips is unclear, but according to a court policy guide seen by The Associated Press, food, lodging, or entertainment received as “personal hospitality from a individual” need not be declared if they take place at the personal residence of that individual or his family. That said, the reporting exception is not intended to apply to “transportation in lieu of commercial transportation” and property owned by an entity.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman acknowledged receipt of an email from the AP seeking comment from Mr. Thomas, but did not provide additional information. ProPublica wrote that Mr. Thomas did not respond to a detailed list of questions posed by the organization.

Last month, the federal court system tightened disclosure requirements for all judges, including those on the nation’s highest court, though stays at personal vacation homes owned by friends remain exempt from disclosure.

This latest story is likely to bolster calls for judges to adopt a code of ethics and improve disclosure of travel and other freebies.

In a statement, Mr. Crow told ProPublica that he and his wife had been friends of Mr. Thomas and his wife since 1996, five years after Mr. Thomas entered the Supreme Court. Mr. Crow said “the hospitality we have extended to the Thomases over the years is no different than that we have extended to our many other friends” and that the couple “never asked for this hospitality.

He added that they “never asked about any pending or lesser court case, and Judge Thomas never discussed it, and we never sought to influence Judge Thomas on any legal matter.” or politics whatsoever”.

The ProPublica article says Judge Thomas has vacationed at Mr. Crow’s lavish Topridge Resort virtually every summer for more than two decades. On a 2017 trip, other guests included executives from “Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, major Republican donors, and one of the leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative pro-business think tank,” reported ProPublica.

Mr. Crow wrote that he was “not aware that any of our friends had lobbied or sought to influence Judge Thomas in any matter, and I would never invite anyone who I believe , would intend to do so”.

Disclosure of these lavish trips contrasts with what Thomas said about his preferred methods of travel. Mr. Thomas, who grew up in poverty in Georgia, said he loved traveling in his coach and preferred “Walmart parking lots to beaches.”