Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is facing new scrutiny over his decades-long membership in an all-white private beach club, as he bills himself as a progressive and prominent critic of “systemic racism” — dismissing membership based on race as “a long tradition in Rhode Island.”
Whitehouse (D-RI) was confronted Friday by a GoLocal Providence reporter, who published the video along with an article on Saturday detailing what occurred after asking about the senator’s membership at Newport-based Bailey’s Beach Club, part of the Spouting Rock Beach Association.
“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” the progressive pol told the reporter after being asked of the club’s lack of any diversity whatsoever.
Asked if such clubs should continue to exist at a time when the country is having a racial reckoning, Whitehouse replied, “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,” he added before leaving the scene.
While Whitehouse appeared to dismiss the club’s circumstances, his wife, Sandra Whitehouse, is one of the three largest shareholders in the club.
When the Rhode Island senator, who was first elected in 2006, initially ran for his office, he disavowed his membership and pledged to quit the club, GoLocal reported.
GoLocal pressed Whitehouse and his office over his membership multiple times in 2017, noting that more than a decade had passed since his unkept campaign promise.
After the lawmaker repeatedly declined requests for comment on his involvement in the club, a GoLocal reporter confronted Whitehouse at a Newport-based event in late August of that year.
“I think it would be nice if they changed a little bit, but it’s not my position,” the left-wing senator told the outlet.
Asked if he intended to pressure the club to do better on diversity, Whitehouse replied, “I will take that up privately,” before declining to comment on the matter further.
It is not clear if or how he has taken the matter up with his better half. GoLocal reported back in 2017 that for both Sheldon and Sandra, membership in Bailey’s “goes back generations.”
“Their parents, both of them, and their children summered at the ultra exclusive club and had access to socializing and building contacts with the some of the wealthiest families whose ranks include multiple billionaires,” the outlet reported.
Reps for Whitehouse did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.