Whitehouse Apologizes For Failing To Acknowledge Beach Club’s Lack Of Diversity

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22:  Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questions Judge Neil Gorsuch during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2017 in Washington. Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left on the court by the February 2016 death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questions Judge Neil Gorsuch during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Off... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questions Judge Neil Gorsuch during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2017 in Washington. Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left on the court by the February 2016 death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on Wednesday apologized for failing to acknowledge the lack of diversity of an exclusive beach club in Newport, Rhode Island, amid furor over his remarks last week that seemed to confirm a local reporter’s characterization of the club as “all-white.”

After reaffirming that he will not resign from the beach club, Whitehouse said in a statement on Wednesday that the uproar that ensued when a reporter asked him about his membership forced him to “assess all my affiliations and to consider whether any involve inequitable or exclusionary policies.”

Whitehouse then expressed remorse for being part of a sailing club that lacks diversity.

“I do own a boat and belong to a sailing club in Newport. While this club does not have exclusionary rules for membership, it does lack diversity,” Whitehouse said. “Failing to address the sailing club’s lack of diversity is squarely on me, and something for which I am sorry.”

Whitehouse added that he is committed to “working with the club and the community” to build a “more inclusive membership.”

In the past week, Whitehouse has come under fire for his membership at the ritzy Bailey’s Beach Club, which the New York Times described in a 2003 report as an exclusive mostly white club.

Last week, Whitehouse appeared apologetic when a local reporter characterized the club as “all-white.”

“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that, and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse tried to walk back his initial comment on Monday by telling NBC 10 that the alleged “whites only” policy never existed in the first place.

On Wednesday, Whitehouse said that he mistakenly accepted the local reporter’s characterization of the beach club being “all-white” because he “wasn’t prepared for the question.”

“I then checked the assertion and was assured that, first, the assertion was wrong, there is diversity in the membership and there are non-white club members; and second, that improving diversity remains a priority and an active task for the club’s new board,” Whitehouse said on Wednesday.

Whitehouse said that he will not urge his family to resign from the club, which his wife is one of the top shareholders of.

The beach club attempted to clean up the backlash by denying discriminatory policies in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Recent characterizations in the press and in other commentary about Baileys Beach club are inaccurate and false,” the club said. “Over many years, Club members and their families have included people of many racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds from around the world who come to Newport every summer.”

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. People talk about folks being “Epsteined”

    W/r/t Whitehouse…let’s not “Franken” this guy

  2. If Whitehouse leaving his exclusive club would change policing in this country, I’d be at his house protesting until he left it. If he leaves the club, will it end systemic racism, housing discrimination or disparities in loans or sentencing?

    If the media looked at club memberships of the rest of the Senators, I’m certain they will find others with memberships to clubs that absolutely have discriminatory membership policies- especially for those Senators that voted against the Jan 6th Commission and for filibustering S1 and other legislation on the floor right now.

    BTW, voting for making Juneteenth a federal holiday doesn’t do anything to deal with voter suppression, police brutality or (ironically) anti-lynching legislation.

  3. “Democrats In Diversity Disarray!”

    Yeah, it’s Dems who have a diversity problem…

  4. Some of the members do sport deep tans.

  5. One thing I learned when I moved to the Northeast- most beaches are not public property. If you don’t live in town (or neighborhood), you have to pay to go to the beach, or have to be a guest of residents to go on the beach. When I live, there’s literally a rope that divides the public beach connected to a state park, and the private beach for the residents of of a neighborhood. Even as a town resident, I can’t use the neighborhood beach! Many of these beaches have beach or boat clubs.

    This outrage is a serious nothing burger.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

32 more replies

Participants

Avatar for discobot Avatar for fgs Avatar for sysprog Avatar for mattinpa Avatar for irasdad Avatar for DuckmanGR Avatar for christianhankel Avatar for tacoma Avatar for alansnipes734 Avatar for 26degreesrising Avatar for tecmage Avatar for lastroth Avatar for harry_r_sohl Avatar for alyoshakaramazov1 Avatar for darcy Avatar for hoagie Avatar for berkyjay Avatar for jtx Avatar for maximus Avatar for tindalos Avatar for justruss Avatar for bloomingpeonie Avatar for rascal_crone Avatar for visionseeker

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: