Supreme Caught In Fishy Business! Justice Kept on Ruling in Favor of Fishing Buddy with Private Jet.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, center, and hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, right, hold king salmon with another guest. Credit:Photo obtained by ProPublica.
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By Jonathan Mason-June 21st, 2023.

In the photograph above taken in  early July 2008, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was on vacation at a luxury fishing lodge that charged more than $1,000 a day, and after catching a king salmon nearly the size of his leg, Alito posed for this picture.

To his left, stood a man, Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire who has repeatedly and successfully asked the Supreme Court to rule in his favor in big-money  business disputes.

Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way.

Alito did not report the 2008 fishing trip on his annual financial disclosures. By failing to disclose the private jet flight Singer provided, Alito may have violated a federal law that to disclose most gifts, according to ethics law experts.

Experts said they could not identify an instance of a justice ruling on a case after receiving an expensive gift paid for by one of the parties.

“If you were good friends, what were you doing ruling on his case?” said Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor and leading expert on recusals “And if you weren’t good friends, what were you doing accepting this?” referring to the flight on the private jet.

Justices are almost entirely left to police themselves on ethical issues, with few restrictions on what gifts they can accept. When a potential conflict arises, the sole arbiter of whether a justice should step away from a case is the justice him or herself.

ProPublica’s investigation sheds new light on how luxury travel has given prominent political donors — including one who has had cases before the Supreme Court — intimate access to the most powerful judges in the country.

Another wealthy businessman provided expensive vacations to two members of the high court, ProPublica found. On his Alaska trip, Alito stayed at a commercial fishing lodge owned by this businessman, who was also a major conservative donor. Three years before, that same businessman flew Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, on a private jet to Alaska and paid the bill for his stay.

Such trips would be unheard of for the vast majority of federal workers, who are generally barred from taking even modest gifts.

Leonard Leo, the longtime leader of the conservative Federalist Society, attended and helped organize the Alaska fishing vacation. Leo invited Singer to join, according to a person familiar with the trip, and asked Singer if he and Alito could fly on the billionaire’s jet.

Leo had recently played an important role in the justice’s confirmation to the court. Singer and the lodge owner were both major donors to Leo’s political groups.

ProPublica’s examination of Alito’s and Scalia’s travel drew on trip planning emails, Alaska fishing licenses, and interviews with dozens of people including private jet pilots, fishing guides, former high-level employees of both Singer and the lodge owner, and other guests on the trips.

ProPublica sent Alito a list of detailed questions last week, and on Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s head spokeswoman told ProPublica that Alito would not be commenting.

Several hours later, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Alito responding to ProPublica’s questions about the trip.

In his “prebuttal” to the new ProPublica report, Alito denied  wrongdoing.

Alito said justices “commonly interpreted” ethics laws “to mean that accommodations and transportation for social events were not reportable gifts”.

The seat on Singer’s plane, the justice wrote, “would have otherwise been vacant”.

Alito said that when Singer’s companies came before the court, the justice was unaware of the billionaire’s connection to the cases. He said he recalled speaking to Singer on “no more than a handful of occasions,” and they never discussed Singer’s business or issues before the court.

Source:, BBC, news agencies.



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