A Rhode Island democrat has come under scrutiny (not by the mainstream media) for his membership in an all-white club in Rhode Island. Incidentally, his wife is the largest single shareholder in this racist holdover, and he defended it, claiming “it’s a long tradition.”
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse continues to defend his family’s membership in the all-white private Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport.
GoLocal interviewed Whitehouse on Friday in Pawtucket and when asked if the private club had admitted any minorities since GoLocal first raised the issue in 2017, Whitehouse said, “I think the people who are running the place are still working on that and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet.”
Both Whitehouse and his wife Sandra as well as their families have been members of the club for decades. Whitehouse did transfer his shares in the club to his wife years ago, and she is now one of the largest shareholders in the all-white club. The club’s membership is a who’s who Newport, Palm Beach, and New York wealth.
“It’s a long tradition in Rhode Island and there are many of them and I think we just need to work our way through the issues, thank you,” said Whitehouse as he was ushered away by a staffer.
The interview took place on the eve of the new national holiday Juneteenth National Independence Day.
The Whitehouse family continues to be members of Bailey’s Beach Club, also known by its legal name Spouting Rock Beach Association, and according to members GoLocal has spoken with, Sandra Whitehouse is at the facilities most summer days.
The Senator has spoken out about the injustice of systematic racism in America. On June 4, 2020, after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor Whitehouse said in a statement, “We hear the voices of the peaceful protestors who have marched. We can and must do better to root out systemic racism in its many forms.”
Four Years Later, Has America and the Whitehouse Family Really Changed
In August of 2017, GoLocal’s News Editor Kate Nagle caught up with Whitehouse at an event in Newport. Whitehouse and his press staff had repeatedly refused to respond to questions about the Senator’s membership in the exclusive all-white private club.
“I think it would be nice if they (Bailey’s Beach Club) changed a little bit, but it’s not my position,” Whitehouse told Nagle.
When asked if he would pressure the club to push for diversity at the all-white club], Whitehouse said, “I will take that up privately.” He then told Nagle he had no further comment and walked away.
Bailey’s Beach Club is not an average private club — it has been described as the most exclusive club in America.
The New York Times wrote about the club more than a decade ago…’’ People kill to belong to the beach,” said Beth Pyle, whose twin sister, she added, has never quite made it into the club. ‘It has really driven some people crazy when they don’t get in.”
The GoLocal investigation found that the Whitehouses have extended the club connections to others. Vivian Spencer, another Bailey’s lifer, is now a member of Whitehouse’s Senate staff.
After GoLocal’s reporting in 2017, progressive activist and labor leader Mike Araujo wrote in a column in GoLocal, “I find Senator Whitehouse’s position on his membership of the historically restricted Bailey’s Beach Club deeply disappointing yet not surprising. Racism is the air we breathe in this country, there is no place, absolutely no place that can be named that was not the site of a forcible removal or slaughter of indigenous people, or the trade, whipping, and forced labor of Black people.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) defends his membership at an all-white private beach club
“It’s a long tradition in Rhode Island” pic.twitter.com/Rz2PshR20q
— Jewish Deplorable (@TrumpJew2) June 20, 2021