One of the most aggressive defenders of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is Mark Paoletta. He has assailed Senators and reporters who raise concerns about the serious ethical issues raised by the actions of Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
What’s Paoletta’s Track Record When It Comes to Flacking for the Thomases?
When Paoletta worked in the George H.W. Bush administration he worked on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Leonard Leo also worked on that confirmation battle.
In 1991, Anita Hill testified under oath that Thomas had engaged in gross sexual overtures toward her when she worked with him in the Reagan administration. Thomas denied her claims, and his GOP allies attacked her character.
Since then, Paoletta has repeatedly defended Thomas, and since at least 2016 he has been part of the PR effort to buttress Thomas.
In 2022, for example, the Federalist, a far right-wing blog site funded by Dick Uihlein, published a piece by Mark Paoletta attacking an investigation by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker about Ginni Thomas’ close ties to right-wing groups, including some that file briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Federalist’s piece resulted in a correction of how it tried to defend the Thomases with a comparison that effectively mischaracterized the recusal practices of another federal judge and her spouse.
Paoletta has penned other pieces defending Thomas in that blog, such as calling Anita Hill a liar.
This past July the Washington Post revealed that Leo steered at least $1.8M into a PR and online astroturf campaign to attack a 2016 HBO film about the Clarence Thomas’ nomination. Paoletta was the face of the campaign and, it turns out, was paid $300,000 by Leo’s Judicial Education Project, according to other disclosures.
When asked by the Post, Paoletta confirmed, “my good friend Leonard Leo’s group provided funding for this work,” including the Thomas film.
Paoletta also represented Ginni Thomas before the January 6th committee after the Washington Post reported that she repeatedly texted Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to stop the Electoral College votes from being counted after the 2020 election and urged numerous state legislators to overturn Biden’s election too.
Paoletta also provided a statement to the Washington Post on Ginni’s behalf, after it was revealed that her group, “Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty,” received $600,000 in anonymous contributions funneled through Capital Research Center (CRC) to engage in culture war battles. Around the time of this contribution, CRC signed onto a brief petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case on emission regulations.
In 2021, during the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation Paoletta was also listed as the contact, along with Judicial Crisis Network’s (JCN) Carrie Severino, on a memoir about Thomas. JCN spent $1.5 million on an ad buy ostensibly about KBJ but that was mostly a promo of a vanity biopic about Thomas. The ad buy was tied to Leo’s for-profit PR firm CRC Advisors. That ad campaign touting Thomas came as news was breaking about Ginni’s role in repeatedly texting Meadows to try to stop Americans’ votes for Biden from being counted.
That JCN ad led True North to examine all the funders of that video where Thomas claimed to love hanging out in his RV at Walmart more than going to the beach, and one of those funders was the long-time benefactors of the Thomases’ luxury lifestyle: Harlan Crow. That painting, which was called just five guys discussing the law by the artist, includes Paoletta with Crow, Leonard Leo, Clarence Thomas, and another litigator, Bo Rutledge. Paoletta is the one sitting between Leo and Thomas. Ansev Demirhan, a researcher with True North, is the one who found that painting that has now been seen around the world.
Learn more about Paoletta and The Federalist here.