Judge Alito accepted Alaska vacation from GOP donors, report says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito agreed to a 2008 trip to a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska from two wealthy Republican donors, one of whom repeatedly had interests in court , and it did not disclose travel on its financial disclosure for this year, ProPublica reports.

A report published Wednesday by the nonprofit investigative journalism organization says that in July 2008, Alito flew to a remote corner of Alaska aboard the man’s private plane. Republican businessman and donor Paul Singer. A hedge fund founded by the billionaire has taken a dozen cases to court since then, ProPublica reported. Alito has not recused himself from participating in any of these cases.

Alito’s three-day stay at the King Salmon Lodge was paid for by another wealthy donor, Robin Arkley II, owner of a mortgage company then based in California. Leonard Leo, then leader of the conservative legal group The Federalist Society, helped organize the trip, including securing a seat for Alito on Singer’s jet, which would have cost Alito at least $100,000 had he chartered the jet itself, ProPublica reported.

Supreme Court justices, like other federal judges, are required to file annual financial disclosure reports, which ask them to list the gifts they have received. However, the high court is not subject to a binding code of conduct that applies to lower court judges, giving judges the latitude to write and enforce their own rules.

Alito strenuously disputed the conclusions of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published before ProPublica published its piece, saying he was under no obligation to disclose details of the trip or recuse himself from matters involving the fund. Singer speculative.

“I remember speaking to Mr. Singer on only a handful of occasions, all of them (except for small talk on a fishing trip 15 years ago) consisted of brief comments and flippant at events attended by large groups,” Alito wrote. “On no occasion did we discuss the activities of his companies, and we never discussed any case or matter before the Court.”

“As for the flight, Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked if I wanted to fly there. down in a seat that, to the best of my knowledge, would otherwise have been vacant. It was my understanding that this would impose no additional cost on Mr. Singer,” Alito wrote.

The revelation of Alito’s acceptance of the trip comes as the court faces intense scrutiny of ethical issues, including the requirement for judges to disclose details of paid trips. That led congressional Democrats to push for legislation that would impose binding ethics rules on the court.

ProPublica previously reported that Judge Clarence Thomas agreed to decades of undisclosed trips from longtime friend Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, which included stays at Crow’s private resort, flights on his jet and vacation aboard Crow’s yacht in Indonesia. Crow also bought property from Thomas and paid for the tuition of a nephew of Thomas whom Justice helped raise.

Since the passage of a Watergate-era law, judges are expected to report gifts they receive. But Thomas and Alito both argued that a “personal hospitality” provision in the law exempted them.

In March, the federal judiciary tightened disclosure requirements for all judges, including High Court judges, although overnight stays at personal holiday homes owned by friends remain exempt from disclosure.

The lodge where Alito stayed often attracted celebrities and wealthy businessmen, and typically charged guests $1,000 a night.

A photo from the trip published by ProPublica shows Alito in waders with a fishing guide, posing with a huge king salmon. Another day, the group flew in a bush plane to a waterfall in Katmai National Park, where bears are snatching salmon from a waterfall.

In the evening, the group dined on king crab legs or Kobe beef. One member of the group bragged that the wine they were drinking cost $1,000 a bottle, one of the lodge’s fishing guides told ProPublica.

But Alito wrote that the accommodations were much less lavish, calling the lodge “comfortable but rustic”.

“I don’t remember if the lodge party, about 20 people, was served wine, but if there was wine, it was definitely not $1,000 wine,” he said. he writes.

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