Ken Burns has made a statement after a photo surfaced of the documentary filmmaker with Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and billionaire David Koch. While Koch has funded one of Burns’ documentaries, Burns maintains that he and the Supreme Court Justice have no connections or relationship.
“Around ten years ago, Ken was stopped and asked to take a photograph with a Supreme Court Justice and David Koch, who was a supporter of public television and would later provide some funding for his film, ‘The Vietnam War.’ So he took the photo, as he has done with many, many others. Other than the taking of that photograph and innocuous pleasantries, that’s the extent of his contact with Justice Thomas,” a spokesperson for Burns said in a statement to Variety.
“The Vietnam War” is a 10-part, 18-hour long PBS documentary piece that chronicles first-hand accounts from witnesses and participants from both sides of the war.
The photo began circulating Friday after a ProPublica article revealed insight into Thomas and Koch’s financial connections and details about their fundraising network. It was revealed that Thomas had attended two of Koch’s donor events, “which puts Thomas in the extraordinary positions of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term,” said ProPublica.
While Burns was not mentioned in the article, the photo appeared as the lead image which was said to have been taken at the Bohemian Grove during an all-men’s retreat in California.