October 25,2023

Justice Thomas Did Not Repay Substantial Portion of $267,230 Loan, Finance Committee Investigation Reveals; Failed to Report Forgiven Debt on Ethics Filings, Raising Questions About Tax Compliance

Documents Show Businessman Forgave the Loan, which Thomas used to Purchase a Luxury RV

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today made public new information raising questions about whether Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas properly reported up to $267,230 in loan forgiveness on his tax filings. 

According to information committee staff obtained through documents provided by Anthony Welters, who loaned Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas $267,230, Thomas made interest payments, but never repaid a substantial portion of the loan. As the New York Times first reported in August 2023, Thomas used the loan to purchase a luxury Prevost Marathon motor coach. 

“Today the committee has the answer to one of the pressing questions raised by reporting about his arrangement with Justice Thomas - was the loan ever repaid? Now we know that Justice Thomas had up to $267,230 in debt forgiven and never reported it on his ethics forms,” Wyden said. “Regular Americans don’t get wealthy friends to forgive huge amounts of debt so they can buy a second home. Justice Thomas should inform the committee exactly how much debt was forgiven and whether he properly reported the loan forgiveness on his tax returns and paid all taxes owed. I have also directed the committee to share our findings with the Judiciary Committee to evaluate the ethics implications of this disclosure.”  

Committee staff provided a memorandum to Chairman Wyden laying out their findings, including: 

-A handwritten note from Justice Thomas, on Supreme Court stationery, dated December 6, 1999, referencing a promissory note and security agreement between Thomas and Mr. Welters

-A promissory note dated December 6, 1999, laying out terms between Clarence and Virginia Thomas and  Mr. Welters, for a $267,230 loan, at 7.5 percent interest 

-A security agreement dated December 6, 1999, between the Thomases and Mr. Welters, granting Mr. Welters a security interest in a 1991 Prevost RV to secure payment of the loan

-A bank check from Justice Thomas to Mr. Welters, dated December 21, 2000, for a motorcoach payment, for $20,042.23, the same amount as the annual 7.5% interest payment on a $267,230 loan, and

-A handwritten note from Mr. Welters to Justice Thomas, dated November 22, 2008, stating that Welters would no longer seek further payments on the loan. This note also stated that Justice Thomas had paid interest only on the loan, indicating that the principal of $267,230 had not been repaid by Justice Thomas. 

-None of the documents reviewed by Committee staff indicated that Thomas ever made payments to Welters in excess of the annual interest on the loan.

The full memorandum on the committee’s investigation is available here.