- K&L Gates: Lawyer
- US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania (1969-????)
- Governor of Pennsylvania (1979-1987)
- Department of Justice: Attorney general (1988-1991)
Main article: Franklin child sex ring
The Department of Justice under Dick Thornburgh was instrumental in covering up both the Omaha and Washington DC aspects of the Franklin scandal. In Omaha, the FBI intimidated witnesses and falsified evidence to portray the child abuse allegations as a hoax, and a corrupt federal grand jury led by Assistant US Attorney Thomas Thalken helped sanctify the cover-up. In Washington DC, federal prosecutors ignored evidence of political connections (never even calling Craig Spence to testify before a grand jury) and focused entirely on Henry Vinson, intimidating him with a multi-dozen count RICO indictment to ensure his silence. The details Vinson claims to have told federal authorities before his sentencing, which named Larry King and Craig Spence in connection with a CIA blackmail ring, were sealed in perpetuity. While it is unclear whether Thornburgh had a direct role in orchestrating these cover-ups of the Franklin pedophile ring, the uniformity between Nebraska and Washington DC does indicate higher-level federal involvement.
If Thornburgh was involved in the cover-up, it was likely motivated by more than just institutional protection of a high-society pedophile network. According to Henry Vinson, Thornburgh himself was routinely provided adolescent boys for sex by Craig Spence. Thornburgh's name has never been printed in any of Vinson's accounts, but the person in question has been called "an extremely high-ranking official in the Department of Justice" and "in the cabinet of George H.W. Bush", making it clear that the person was the attorney general, Dick Thornburgh.
Main article: Inslaw affair
Main article: Penn State child molestation case
- Nick Bryant, The Franklin Scandal, p.297: "In February 1989, Vinson claims, Spence wanted him to participate in a creative financing scheme involving government monies that Vinson felt was a tad too shady[...] An uneasy Vinson showed up at Spence's condo to find only Spence and an extremely high-ranking official in the Department of Justice—Spence had previously disclosed to Vinson that he provided this official with adolescent boys."
- Henry W. Vinson with Nick Bryant, Confessions of a DC Madam, p.106-107: "Spence introduced the man to me by his name and also disclosed his title. He was in the cabinet of George H.W. Bush. I feel that the Bush administration had decided to pull out a big gun to eradicate any traces of Gregg's affinity for gay escorts, because Gregg had been so instrumental in Iran-Contra and because he was en route to becoming the United States Ambassador to South Korea. Spence had dropped the name of the cabinet member months earlier, when he revealed that he routinely provided him with adolescent boys."
- The Patriot-News, "Former Pa. Gov. Dick Thornburgh: Why he aided the Paterno report", 2013/02/14 - Thornburgh led the Paterno report, criticizing the findings that Paterno was part of a group of Penn State officials who covered up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse
- Pennsylvania attorney general's office drug scandal
- EIR, "Thornburgh underling tied to drug dealing", 1990/03/23 - former subordinate of Thornburgh investigated for drug dealing; Thornburgh's 1980 trade mission arranged by associates of Craig Spence
- Washington Post, "COURT PAPERS ALLEGE DRUG USE BY FORMER THORNBURGH AIDE", 1990/07/17
- Washington Post, "PENNSYLVANIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO COCAINE CHARGE", 1990/08/16
- New York Times, "How Cocaine Brought Low a Soaring Law Career", 1991/02/24
- Rodney Stich, "Blonde Bombshell, CIA, Drugs, and Bush" - claims that FBI agent Darlene Novinger investigated drug use by prosecutors in Thornburgh's office: "During this assignment, she discovered and reported drug activities involving five prosecutors in the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office headed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. These included Richard Guida, Henry Barr, and three others. Darlene had obtained eyewitness statements showing that Guida and Barr were doing “lines” at the VIP Club in Harrisburg. (Dumping cocaine onto a small mirror, chopping it into lines, and then inhaling it into the nose using a straw.) One informant, Brenda Snell, told Darlene that Guida had purchased one pound of cocaine from her."
- "Investigative Leads" articles by a LaRouche group, many of which mention Thornburgh and Inslaw - also says "intimate associates have confirmed that Gray's closest colleague back in Omaha is World-Herald publisher Anderson"
- Cathy O'Brien has accused Thornburgh of molesting her as a child