Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., on Monday defended his family’s membership in a reportedly all-white private Rhode Island beach club, telling reporters that “the club informed me that it actually had a variety of memberships ”.
Bailey’s Beach Club has “a long tradition of being a family club, and they strive to improve diversity. I think that’s fair enough, ”Whitehouse said, expanding on comments he made on a Providence website where he appeared to ignore the club. the story.
Asked Friday about his family’s continued membership in the “all-white” club of Newport, Whitehouse, a progressive Democrat who has repeatedly spoken out against ” systemic racism “In the country, said GoLocal Providence” I think the people who run the place are still working on this and I’m sorry that hasn’t happened yet. ”
When asked if such ‘all-white elite wealthy clubs’ are yet to exist, Whitehouse said, “It’s a long tradition in Rhode Island and there are a lot of them. I think we just have to work our way through the issues, thanks. “
On Monday, he said GoLocal “got the facts wrong” about the club’s membership and meant there was “a long tradition of this being a family club” .
When asked if he knew of any “miscellaneous” members, Whitehouse said, “I thought there were. I don’t spend a lot of time there, so I can’t tell you who the members are. “
Whitehouse spokesman Richard Davidson told NBC News on Monday that the club did not have a “restrictive policy.”
“The club has had and has members of color,” Davidson said, adding that the senator “has dedicated his entire career to promoting fairness and protecting civil rights, as his track record shows.”
The 124-year-old club, officially known as the Spouting Rock Beach Association, did not respond to a request for comment.
According to GoLocal, Whitehouse promised to quit his club membership when he ran for the Senate in 2006, but transferred his shares to his wife. The site first confronted him with his refusal to resign in 2017.
“I think it would be nice if the members changed a bit,” he told GoLocal at the time. When asked if he would pressure the club to do so, he replied: “I’m going to talk about it in private. “
When asked on Monday when he had “consolidated” his membership with that of his family, he replied that he did not remember.
Bailey’s Beach Club, which has been described as one of the most exclusive in the country, has around 500 members, according to a 2003 New York Times article.
The newspaper asked a member about the club’s diversity at the time.
“Jewish, yes,” said the member, but “Blacks, not really. The article noted that one of the members had adult grandchildren who were of mixed race and who sometimes visited him.