U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Thomas financed his 'really bougie' RV with a loan from a wealthy friend; did he pay it off?

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GettyImages-Clarence Thomas October 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait in the Supreme Court building Oct. 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. “There is an untold, and far more complex, back story to Justice Thomas’ RV,” the New York Times reports. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife have told interviewers that they enjoy traveling across the United States in their recreational vehicle, where they interact with people who don’t recognize them and sometimes spend the night in Walmart parking lots.

“But there is an untold, and far more complex, back story to Justice Thomas’ RV,” the New York Times reports. That story “not only undercuts the mythology but also leaves unanswered a host of questions about whether the justice received, and failed to disclose, a lavish gift from a wealthy friend.”

Thomas bought his used Prevost Le Mirage XL Marathon for $267,230 in 1999, the newspaper reports. The article described the vehicle as “the Rolls-Royce of motor coaches.” The grandson of the RV’s previous owner told the New York Times that it was “superluxury, really bougie.”

Thomas was able to buy the RV thanks to a loan from Anthony Welters, described by the New York Times as “a close friend who made his fortune in the health care industry.” Thomas would likely have been unable to obtain a bank loan for the vehicle because he was carrying a large amount of debt, and it is difficult to value customized RVs like the Marathon RV.

Welters told the New York Times that the loan was “satisfied” about nine years later. He did not say whether the loan was forgiven or paid off, and he did not say whether it required interest payments.

The lack of information raises questions about whether the loan should have been reported as a gift, according to the article.

The New York Times also noted that flight records show that Thomas flew on a plane owned by Welters and his wife, Beatrice Welters, to the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, when they invited Thomas there in 2010. Beatrice Welters had been named an ambassador to the nation by former President Barack Obama.

Thomas reported, however, that the “U.S. Embassy Port of Spain” had paid for the flight.

Beatrice Welters offered only a limited comment to the New York Times.

“I just want to tell you that friendships come and go, and that’s what I want to say,” she said.

According to the New York Times, the loan is the latest revelation concerning Thomas’ wealthy friends and how they “bestowed an array of benefits” on the justice and his family. Those benefits included luxury travel on private jets and a yacht and the payment of partial tuition for Thomas’ greatnephew.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “ABA task force recommends ethics and transparency changes for Supreme Court”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court ethics legislation will advance after Alito revelations, committee chairman says”

ABAJournal.com: “Can Congress bind Supreme Court on ethics code? Alito offers opinion”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court justices should follow binding code of ethics, ABA House says”

ABAJournal.com: “No summer break for Supreme Court ethics debate”

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