(USA Features) Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island is defending his longtime membership in an all-white country club, saying that it is “a long tradition” in his home state.
“You had remarks on the floor following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd on systemic racism in the country. Your thoughts on an elite, all-white, wealthy club in this day and age. Should these clubs continue to exist?” a reporter asked Whitehouse on Friday.
“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,” Whitehouse responded.
The reporter was asking Whitehouse, a former state attorney general, about his membership in Bailey’s Beach Club, which is a part of the Spouting Rock Beach Association in the city of Newport.
Whitehouse, who has been a U.S. senator since 2006, is up for reelection in 2024.
The senator reportedly claimed he would end his membership in the club when he was first elected to the Senate, a claim he repeated again in 2017. He has yet to do so.
In fact, his wife has become one of the largest shareholders in the club.
A spokesperson for the Democratic senator said the club does not exclude blacks or other minorities.
“The club has no such restrictive policy. The club has had and has members of color,” spokeswoman Meaghan McCabe said, according to the Washington Times.
“The senator has dedicated his entire career to promoting equity and protecting civil rights, as his record shows,” she added.
Whitehouse was one of several Democratic lawmakers who made a show of kneeling in June 2020 in remembrance of George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police weeks earlier.
“We hear the voices of the peaceful protestors who have marched,” Whitehouse tweeted at the time.
“We can and must do better to root out systemic racism in its many forms and meet America’s promise of justice for all.”