GOP Senators Shrug Off Megadonor Harlan Crow’s Nazi Memorabilia

  • Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s financial entanglements with Clarence Thomas were recently revealed.
  • The GOP megadonor also keeps Nazi artifacts at his Dallas home, where he’s hosted fundraisers.
  • Republicans who’ve been to Crow’s home defended him, arguing he’s not a supporter of Hitler.

Harlan Crow, the Texas billionaire whose secret lavish trips and property purchases from Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas have drawn recent scrutiny from Democrats and ethics experts, also happens to maintain a collection of Nazi memorabilia at his home.

Given that Crow is a prolific megadonor to GOP campaigns and causes, several prominent GOP politicians have attended high-dollar fundraisers at his home over the years — and have seen his collection for themselves.

In interviews with Insider at the Capitol on Tuesday, several of them defended the Republican megadonor amid broad scrutiny of his taste in historical artifacts.

“He has an extensive historical museum that examines World War Two,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s been to “multiple” fundraisers at Crow’s home. The Texas senator argued that the media is “deliberately” mischaracterizing the nature of Crow’s collection in order to tarnish Clarence’s reputation.

“I’m not gonna comment on his collection tastes,” said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who attended a fundraiser at Crow’s home in 2012. “I don’t imagine, in any way, that Harlan Crow has any feelings of support for Hitler. That would be, in my opinion, absurd.”

“I’m not interested in talking to you,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — whose campaign committees have received nearly $300,000 from Crow over the years — when asked about the collection.

Among the collection of historical artifacts at Crow’s expansive estate in the wealthy Dallas-area enclave of Highland Park, according to several reports, are a signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a collection of Nazi linens and other artifacts, and two of Hitler’s original paintings from the one-time Chancellor’s time as a struggling artist.

His backyard includes a so-called “Garden of Evil,” including busts and statues of infamous dictators ranging from Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin to Fidel Castro and Josip Tito.

“He collects memorabilia on fallen dictators as a reminder of how all these dictators ended up dead,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who attended a fundraiser at Crow’s house in 2015 and benefited from $350,000 in outside spending by Crow in support of his 2016 presidential campaign. “It’s a reminder that dictatorship doesn’t work.”

Harlan Crow in his Dallas residence on October 2, 2015.

Harlan Crow in his private library at his Dallas residence on October 2, 2015.

Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“He doesn’t have those statues because he supports Communists, any more than the World War Two memorabilia that he has is because he somehow supports Nazis,” said Cruz. “Rather, he is remembering and commemorating horrific periods in our nation’s history and evil regimes that perpetrated grotesque human rights abuses.”

The Texas senator, whose 2018 re-election effort benefited from $75,000 in outside political spending from Crow, said he hadn’t seen a signed copy of Mein Kampf or the original Hitler paintings.

“I have no idea; his library is an extensive museum,” said Cruz. “So I’ve seen — there are display cases all over the place of all sorts of things.”

‘He’s not a drug dealer or cocaine trafficker’

Crow also collects other historical artifacts, including thousands of documents, books, and historical artifacts pertaining to American history. Understandably, those collections haven’t raised nearly as many questions among the public.

The Texas billionaire recently defended his collecting habits in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, criticizing “yellow journalism” for insinuating that he “[likes] some of that stuff.”

“My mom was on a ship that was sunk by Germans during World War II,” said Crow. “If you try to kill my mom, I don’t like you. I mean, that’s reasonably obvious. And so the idea that I could have sympathy for Nazism is insane.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who said on Monday that Crow’s financial entanglement with Thomas “stinks,” offered high praise for the Texas billionaire, who in 2012 donated $150,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC and held a fundraiser for Romney when he was the party’s 2012 presidential nominee. 

“I think Harlan Crow’s a terrific person,” said Romney, who acknowledged that he had “walked through” the Texas billionaire’s home. “I respect him and appreciated his support, and believe his voice in conservative circles is welcome.”

Rubio argued that it’s “not true” that Crow has a collection of Nazi memorabilia, decrying a “society and political culture that angles anything they can.”

“Harlan Crow’s a patriotic guy,” said the Florida senator. “He’s not a drug dealer or cocaine trafficker; he’s a guy who’s made his money honestly in real estate and been a supporter of many great causes.”

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, whose campaign has received $11,000 from Crow since 2014, said it’s “possible” that she’s been to Crow’s home but that she wasn’t sure.

But when asked about Crow’s Nazi memorabilia and dictator sculptures, Ernst said she had “no idea” about it.

“I would’ve most certainly remembered that,” she said.

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