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Wednesday’s remarks by Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democratic Senator, were a statement that he belonged in a sailing group that lacks diversity.

Bailey’s Beach Club is different from the sailing club. It is an elite Rhode Island organisation that is predominantly White and has previously been linked to Whitehouse. Whitehouse confirmed to Fox News that he’s not a beach club member. However, his family is and will remain so.

“While I don’t belong to the beach club, I do have a boat and I belong to a Newport sailing club. Fox News reported that while the club does have no exclusionary membership rules, it does lack diversity.” The Rhode Island Democrat said in a statement. “Failing the to address the sailing clubs lack of diversity is directly on me and something I am sorry for. I promise to work with the club and community to build an inclusive membership and better connect with my local community.

Whitehouse did not name the sailing club, but the Ida Lewis Yacht Club of Newport, Rhode Island confirmed to Fox News that the senator is a member there. Whitehouse has said that he will now work to increase diversity at the club. However, Whitehouse and his family have been members of the club for some time.

A “Sheldon Whitehouse” is listed as “commodore” of the club from 1937-1940. This could be Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse as his grandfather.

The senator could not reach his office to discuss the next steps in working with the club. Whitehouse’s description that the club was lacking diversity by Whitehouse did not prompt a response.

Whitehouse said that Bailey’s would continue to include his family in his statement. “There have been many calls for me not to join the club. This I understand. “I do not intend to resign as a member of the club, nor will my wife or any family members.”

He added: “The recent attention to this issue has prompted me to assess all my affiliations and to consider whether any involve inequitable or exclusionary policies.”


Whitehouse was interviewed by GoLocalProv about Bailey’s Beach Club membership. The club is officially called Spouting Rock Beach Association. A video of Whitehouse’s response was posted Saturday. The interviewer cited comments Whitehouse made in 2017 that he hoped the highly-exclusive club would begin to accept minority members and asked Whitehouse’s reaction to it allegedly not doing so.

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

GoLocalProv asked Whitehouse whether exclusive clubs with all White members should “continue to exist.”

Whitehouse stated that Rhode Island has a long history of slavery and many others. He said that we need to find a way to get through these issues.


In 2017, Whitehouse told GoLocalProv “it would be nice if the membership changed a little but it’s not my position.”

The club replied that it was “false” not to claim it doesn’t have any non-White members.
“Over many years Club members and families have included people with many racial or religious backgrounds from around the globe who come to Newport every Summer,” the club stated in a statement sent to 12 News-WPRI. Although it is not known if African Americans are part of the “ethnic”, or “racial,” groups, it is possible.


Whitehouse admitted to Fox News that the GoLocalProv reporter had caught him “off-guard” and asked him a question. “I was at an unrelated event and I wasn’t prepared to answer the question. I accepted her presumption at the time. After I checked her assertion, I was informed that it was incorrect. There is diversity within the membership, and non-white members. Second, improving diversity is a priority for the new club board.

According to a profile by Bailey’s in 2003, the club has been “long considered America’s queen resort.”

The Times further reported that Bailey’s is “a world of emerald-barnacled dinosaurs attended by uniformed retainers and underwritten by ironclad fiduciary trusts” where “diversity… has made scant inroads.”

According to the paper’s report, the resort was visited by the grandchildren of a member who is biracial. The resort also permitted Jewish members. But, according to one lifelong member quoted by The Times, Black people were “not really” welcome.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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