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Pence former staffer: Thomas facing scrutiny is ‘double standard’

(NewsNation) — A former staffer for Vice President Mike Pence says the scrutiny on embattled Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a “double standard” in an interview Monday.

Pence has shown strong support for Thomas, recently calling him a “man of integrity.” Thomas has been under fire in recent weeks for reportedly accepting gifts from a GOP megadonor and not disclosing it.

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, says the focus on Thomas is a “double standard.”

“If you look at this situation, you have a complete double standard. From 2004 to 2018. Justice Breyer took more foreign trips than any other justice. A large number of those were funded by the Pritzker Family. Do you see any Democrat senator complaining about that or saying we need to go back and have a study of what the ethics rules and disclosures should have been,” Short said during an appearance on “The Hill on NewsNation” Monday. “During Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s tenure, her husband’s law firm practiced in front of the Supreme Court many times. Was that ever disclosed? Was it ever something that came on to financial disclosure for Ruth Bader Ginsburg? No, it was not. And so this is an absolute double standard.”

Critics have raised questions about Thomas’ ethics and financial disclosure requirements following reporting by nonprofit investigative journalism site ProPublica.

On Thursday, ProPublica reported Republican megadonor and Dallas billionaire Harlan Crow paid two years of private school tuition for Thomas’ great-nephew Mark Martin. Thomas and his wife raised Martin from the age of six. In other stories, ProPublica reported about luxury vacations Thomas went on that were paid for by Crow, as well as Crow’s purchase of property from the Thomas family.

Short says it boils down to being a financial disclosure issue that has been overblown.

“This is a financial disclosure that should’ve been disclosed to the public. I think we can accept that. This is a financial disclosure issue – that’s what it is. We’re making it far more for political gain,” Short said.

Some Republicans, like Pence, have come to the defense of Thomas. In a series of tweets, Pence said Thomas “has been maliciously attacked by the left” and that “attacks on his character are continuing today, and it’s appalling to see.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement that with every development in the Thomas story, “it becomes clearer that Harlan Crow has been subsidizing an extravagant lifestyle” Thomas likely could not otherwise afford.

“This is a foul breach of ethics standards, which are already far too low when it comes to the Supreme Court,” Wyden said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said “something has to be done.”

“The reputation of the Supreme Court is at stake here, the credibility of the court when it comes to its future decisions is at stake,” Durbin said.

Last week, Durbin called for the Supreme Court to adopt a code of conduct at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Republicans insist the move would be politically motivated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.