Virginia ‘’Ginni’' Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular vote victory and choose ‘’a clean slate of Electors,’’ according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.
The e-mails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear.
Just days after media organizations called the race for Biden in Arizona and nationwide, Thomas urged the lawmakers to ‘’stand strong in the face of political and media pressure.’’ She told the lawmakers the responsibility to choose electors was ‘’yours and yours alone’' and said they have ‘’power to fight back against fraud.’’
Thomas sent the messages via an online platform designed to make it easy to send prewritten form e-mails to multiple elected officials, according to a review of the e-mails obtained under the state’s public records law.
The messages show that Thomas, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, was more deeply involved in the effort to overturn Biden’s win than has been previously reported. In sending the e-mails, Thomas played a role in the extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of voters.
Thomas’s actions also underline concerns about potential conflicts of interest that her husband has already faced — and may face in the future — in deciding cases related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Those questions intensified in March, when The Post and CBS News obtained text messages that Thomas sent in late 2020 to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressing him to help reverse the election.
The e-mails were sent to Russell Bowers, a veteran legislator and speaker of the Arizona House, and Shawnna Bolick, who was first elected to the chamber in 2018 and served on the House elections committee during the 2020 session.
‘’Article II of the United States Constitution gives you an awesome responsibility: to choose our state’s Electors,’’ read the Nov. 9 email. ‘’. . . [P]lease take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen.’’
Thomas’s name also appears on an e-mail to the two representatives on Dec. 13, the day before members of the Electoral College met to cast their votes and seal Biden’s victory. ‘’Before you choose your state’s Electors . . . consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,’’ the e-mail said.
It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to ‘’put things right’' and ‘’not give in to cowardice.’’
‘’You have only hours to act,’’ said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.
By December, the claim that legislators should override the popular vote in key states and appoint Trump’s electors was also being pushed publicly by John Eastman, a former law clerk to Clarence Thomas, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
Trump allies argued that pandemic-era changes in election administration and supposedly widespread fraud meant that elections had not been conducted in accordance with state legislatures’ directions, and that under the US Constitution the results therefore could be cast aside. Many legal experts have called those arguments unpersuasive and antidemocratic, and no state legislature complied. Efforts to persuade state lawmakers to name new electors are among the issues under examination by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
Courts turned back dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in an attempt to challenge the 2020 election outcome, and there is no evidence of voting machine manipulation or other widespread fraud.
Ginni Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court did not respond to messages seeking comment from Clarence Thomas.
Ginni Thomas has insisted she and her husband have kept their work separate, but her political activism has set her apart from other Supreme Court spouses. About a decade ago, she and Stephen Bannon — who later became chief strategist in the Trump White House — were among the organizers of Groundswell, a group formed to battle liberals and establishment Republicans. Groundswell dedicated itself to ‘’a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,’’ according to e-mails uncovered by Mother Jones at the time. ‘’Election integrity’' was among the topics discussed in the group’s first months, the e-mails show.
Thomas’s influence in Washington grew during the Trump presidency as her views moved into the GOP mainstream. Clarence and Ginni Thomas had lunch with Trump at the White House in 2018, then attended a state dinner the following year. Also in 2019, she and fellow right-wing activists attended a White House luncheon, where the New York Times reported they told Trump his aides were blocking their preferred candidates for administration appointments.
Over those same years, at annual luncheons, Thomas handed out ‘’Impact Awards’' to right-wing figures. Recipients have included Meadows, then a congressman chairing the hard-right Freedom Caucus, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Thomas is a member of the Council for National Policy, a network of prominent conservative activists, some of whom helped press claims of election fraud. She recently said she attended the pro-Trump rally at the Ellipse in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.