Like former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and California political strategist Sal Russo, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is cashing in on her tea party cred. Ginni Thomas, as she's known, has started an outfit called Liberty Consulting, Politico reports, devoted to political strategizing (which in Washington can mean just about anything) and also tea party-tinged lobbying that, according to her website, draws on Thomas' "experience and connections" on the Hill. "Ginni plans to leverage her 30 years of experience as a Washington 'insider,'" reads her website, "to assist non-establishment 'outsiders' who share her belief in our core founding principles and values."
In a recent email she sent to chiefs of staff on the Hill, Thomas branded herself a "self-appointed ambassador to the freshmen class and an ambassador to the tea party movement." Her new shop is just getting started, but already Thomas says she's met with almost half of the 99 freshman Republicans on Capitol Hill. That lobbying, combined with Thomas' previous role as a tea party activist dedicated to defeating Democrats in the 2010 midterms, has irked good government groups who claim she's politicizing the Supreme Court. "It raises additional questions about whether Justice Thomas can be unbiased and appear to be unbiased" in cases where his wife's political advocacy has had an impact, like the challenge to the health care reform law or limits on corporate campaign spending, a lawyer for the group Common Cause told Politico.
Then again, Thomas doesn't look to have made that big a splash in Congress:
Even among congressional Republicans, with whom Thomas boasts she has close ties, the reaction to the entreaties from her new firm, Liberty Consulting, ranged from puzzlement to annoyance, with a senior House Republican aide who provided Thomas's e-mail to POLITICO blasting her for trying to "cash in" on her ties to the tea party movement.
Freshman Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)—who courted tea party activists and who was endorsed by Liberty Central, the tea party nonprofit group she headed until December—was unaware of Thomas’s new effort.
"This is the spouse of Justice Thomas?" he said, when asked by POLITICO on Tuesday about her outreach. "No, I've never met her. It's not something I've heard about. And I hang out with a lot of freshman," he said.