Virginia Thomas stepping down as head of Liberty Central

By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 15, 2010; 6:00 PM

Virginia Thomas, political activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has decided to relinquish control of Liberty Central, the conservative group she founded less than a year ago, so that the organization can escape the "distractions" of her media celebrity, a spokeswoman said.

"She'll take a back seat so that Liberty Central can continue with its mission without any of the distractions," said spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll of CRC Public Relations in Alexandria. "After discussing it with the board, Mrs. Thomas determined that it was best for the organization."

Carroll declined to elaborate, but a source not authorized to speak publicly about the details said Liberty Central will be merging with the Patrick Henry Center, a Manassas-based conservative organization founded by Gary Aldrich, a former FBI agent who wrote a tell-all book about life inside the Clinton White House.

But late Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Liberty Central disputed the report. "There are many opportunities being presented to Liberty Central, but there is no agreement at this time," Sarah Field, chief operating officer and general counsel for Liberty Central, said in an e-mail. "The sources of this story appear to be people without full understanding of the facts." She declined to elaborate.

Thomas started Liberty Central in May as a grass-roots organizer and educator and intended for it to serve as a clearinghouse of policy and candidate information for conservative activists and tea party groups.

More recently, however, she has been in the news as a result of a recent phone call she made to Anita Hill, the lawyer who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings. Virginia Thomas rekindled a long-ago controversy by leaving a voice mail message at Hill's Brandeis University office seeking an apology.

"Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas," said the message left last month, according to a transcript provided by ABC News. "I just want to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometimes and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband."

The message to Hill is not the only controversy surrounding Thomas. On the morning she made the phone call, Thomas was the subject of a front-page New York Times article questioning whether her new prominence and acceptance of large, anonymous contributions for Liberty Central - including two gifts of $500,000 and $50,000 - might raise conflict-of-interest questions for her husband.

Also last month, Liberty Central blamed a staff error for a memo with Virginia Thomas's name on it declaring health-care legislation unconstitutional - perhaps reflecting a new sensitivity to the relationship between her activism and her husband's job.

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