Alito Failed to Report Trip With Billionaire Paul Singer, ProPublica Says

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito failed to disclose a luxury fishing trip he took with billionaire Paul Singer and then declined to recuse himself from cases involving the hedge fund founder, ProPublica reported.

(Bloomberg) — US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito failed to disclose a luxury fishing trip he took with billionaire Paul Singer and then declined to recuse himself from cases involving the hedge fund founder, ProPublica reported. 

Alito flew on Singer’s private jet in July 2008 to stay at a fishing lodge in Alaska that charged more than $1,000 a day, ProPublica said, citing planning emails, Alaska fishing license data and interviews with people including fishing guides, lodge owners and others. It also published photos of Alito and Singer holding salmon the publication said they caught on the trip. 

The conservative justice never reported the free travel and accommodations for the trip at the lodge, which was owned by another wealthy Republican donor, ProPublica said, adding the airline flight could have cost $100,000 if Alito chartered a jet on his own. 

In the years following that Alaska expedition, Singer’s hedge fund came before the Supreme Court at least 10 times, according to the report. That included a significant bond default case involving Argentina that the court decided in the hedge fund’s favor, helping it secure $2.4 billion. 

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published late Tuesday, Alito accused ProPublica of issuing “false charges” against him. He said he was not required to disclose the free jet trip he received from Singer to get to Alaska under Supreme Court rules at the time. The justice added he didn’t know Singer was a party to some of the cases he was ruling on and never discussed pending litigation with Singer. 

“I had no obligation to recuse in any of the cases that ProPublica cites,” Alito wrote. “Even if I had been aware of Mr. Singer’s connection to the entities involved in those cases, recusal would not have been required or appropriate.”

Later, addressing the air travel, he wrote, “Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant. It was my understanding that this would not impose any extra cost on Mr. Singer.”

A spokesperson for Singer — who ProPublica said has contributed more than $80 million to Republican political groups — said the investor never discussed his business interests with the justice. 

The report adds to rising concerns that Supreme Court justices aren’t held to the same ethical standards as other employees of the federal government and that current reporting requirements aren’t sufficient to prevent conflicts of interests. Chief Justice John Roberts has since said he’s committed to ensuring the Supreme Court adheres to the highest standards of conduct. 

Scalia Travel

The ProPublica report found evidence that the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2005 also failed to report free jet travel and a stay at the same fishing lodge Alito later visited. 

The developments come after the outlet earlier this year reported that Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife traveled through Indonesia aboard Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s 162-foot yacht, vacationed almost every summer at his luxurious New York resort and flew on his private plane around the world on trips worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Crow bought three Georgia properties from the justice and his relatives, and paid private school tuition for a Thomas grandnephew, ProPublica said. None of this was reported on Thomas’s financial disclosure forms. 

Ethics in Government Act

Thomas has said he was advised that he didn’t have to disclose the transactions and said he’s been a long-time friend of Crow. The two men have been friends since 1996, according to Crow. Thomas joined the court in 1991.

Technically, all federal employees across the three branches of government are subject to the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. Still, the consequences for ethical lapses vary widely. Members of Congress can be voted out of office. Executive branch workers face oversight ethics officers. Supreme Court justices operate with no outside oversight.

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.