U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) accused Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and hedge fund manager Paul Singer of collusion in connection to a 2014 case involving Singer’s fund NML Capital and Argentina, where the judge ruled against the country.
In a Supervision Committee hearing in the Chamber of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez echoed a June investigation by American media outlet ProPublica reporting that Singer had sponsored a vacation Justice Alito took at an Alaskan luxury fishing lodge in 2008. The lodge charged more than US$1,000 a day, and the round trip in a private jet cost close to US$200,000, according to the outlet’s estimates.
“In 2014, Justice Samuel Alito and the [Supreme] Court agreed to resolve a vital issue in a decades-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina,” Ocasio-Cortez said. The ruling earned Singer US$2.4 billion.
“Not a bad return on investment for a fishing trip there,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
The representative stressed that Alito did not recuse himself from the case and did not disclose his trip, something required by the Ethics and Government Act. Instead, he “used his seat on the Supreme Court after all of this to rule in Singer’s favor.”
Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was President when the 2014 ruling was published, chimed in. “Don’t let them lie to you anymore,” she wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that included footage of AOC’s presentation.
“This is how they get rulings in the United States judiciary against Argentina, your country.”
President Alberto Fernández agreed with Kirchner as he shared her post. “Not to different from what happened in Lago Escondido, [something] the [Argentine] judiciary hasn’t investigated yet,” he posted on X, referencing a trip Argentine judges, Buenos Aires City officials, and media businessmen made to Joe Lewis’ luxury resort in Patagonia in 2022. The Argentine government has filed a complaint in Federal Court regarding this trip asking that the judges be investigated.
After the 2001 crisis in Argentina, NML Capital, a branch of Elliott Investment Management, purchased Argentine sovereign debt at a steep discount. After the country recovered economically, most creditors accepted the government’s debt restructuring proposal, which had a sharp discount. But Singer held out and started a legal campaign to have the country pay in full.
In 2012, the hedge fund famously attempted to seize an Argentine navy ship in Ghana, the “Fragata Libertad.” The embargo made headlines.
The case took over 13 years of litigation, a process that saw Argentina embark on an international crusade against “vulture funds.” “The U.S. government filed a brief on Argentina’s side, warning that the case raised ‘extraordinarily sensitive foreign policy concerns’,” ProPublica wrote.
However, in 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to take the case, which centered on “how much protection Argentina could claim as a sovereign nation against the hedge fund’s legal maneuvers in U.S. courts,” according to ProPublica’s investigation. The Court ruled in Singer’s favor, with Alito’s vote.
The fishing trip is not the only link between Justice Alito and Singer. The two appeared together at a 2009 dinner of the conservative group The Federalist Society. Alito spoke at the gathering after being introduced by Singer.
The next year, Alito delivered the keynote speech at a dinner for donors at the Manhattan Institute, Singer’s conservative think tank. According to ProPublica, Singer also introduced Alito that evening.
“[It’s] the biggest scandal in American democracy, extraordinary corruption and the wholesale purchase of members of the Supreme Court,” said Ocasio-Cortez.