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Justice Thomas’ wife may play less public role

WASHINGTON — The conservative advocacy group Liberty Central is in merger talks with like-minded organizations, a potential change that could reduce the public role of Virginia Thomas, Liberty Central’s founder and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Sarah Field, Liberty Central’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that “several options are on the table” because of the group’s effectiveness in serving as a bridge between conservative leaders and the Tea Party movement since Liberty Central’s founding last year.

A person familiar with the discussions said the most likely suitor is the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty in Manassas, Va. An agreement to join forces probably also would include a less prominent public role for Thomas, this person said on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Thomas has worked for many years in Republican and conservative politics, but she attracted additional attention last month when she left a voicemail message for Anita Hill asking her to apologize for a 19-year-old sexual harassment accusation that nearly kept Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court.

Hill, a Brandeis University professor, said her testimony against Thomas was truthful and she thought the call was inappropriate. She turned the voicemail message over to campus police, who informed the FBI.

Thomas began Liberty Central to oppose what she has called a power grab by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats and her speeches at Tea Party events around the country have been well received. Her group attracted two initial donations of $500,000 and $50,000, but Liberty Central is not required to identify the source of the money.

Liberty Central’s website still features Virginia Thomas prominently. That includes a video that urges people to “fight the Obama tax hikes.” The description refers to Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year unless Congress takes action. Obama wants to make permanent those cuts affecting couples earning $250,000 or less a year. Republicans want all the cuts to be made permanent.

The site also calls on supporters to stop Senate approval of a pending nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and to oppose all action in the lame-duck session of Congress other than extending the tax cuts and passing legislation to allow the government to keep operating, but at 2007 spending levels.