Sheldon Whitehouse (born 1955) is a Democratic politician and the junior U.S. Senator for Rhode Island, serving since 2007.  He was previously Attorney General of Rhode Island from 1999 to 2003 and before that, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island during the Clinton administration. According to an academic study, Whitehouse was the 31st-most-partisan Senator to hold office between 1993 and 2016. 
Whitehouse has supported applying the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against opponents of environmental regulation.  After Whitehouse gave a speech denouncing 24 right-of-center think tanks, the targeted think tanks sent a letter to Democratic Senators, including Whitehouse, accusing them of “tyranny” and “political retribution.” 
During September 2020, Whitehouse appeared at a subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and in prepared remarks accused center-right activists of running a network with “the earmarks of a massive covert operation” working “against their own country.” Later that day he was criticized by the Wall Street Journal editorial board for making a baseless accusation of “treasonous” behavior against his ideological opponents. After making the allegations to the committee, Whitehouse refused to accept questions and left the hearing room. 
Left-of-center activists have criticized Whitehouse for his investment activities, with a Public Citizen lobbyist suggesting he has “one of the Senate’s more prolific players in the stock market.”  A 2017 report identified his family as holding as much as $1.3 million in shares of health and biomedical companies, making him the largest owner of such assets of any Senator sitting on committees that directly oversee those industries. 
Sheldon Whitehouse is a member of the Democratic Party and the junior U.S. Senator for Rhode Island. He was first elected to the Senate in 2006, starting his third term in January 2019. He was previously Attorney General of Rhode Island from 1999 to 2003 and U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island under President Bill Clinton. His Senate committee assignments as of the 116th Congress include the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Committee on the Budget, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works. 
Whitehouse has regularly ranked as one of the most-partisan members of the Senate. The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University evaluate members of Congress based on their willingness to sponsor or co-sponsor bi-partisan legislation. Of the people who held seats in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2016, Whitehouse ranked 210th in a field of 240, making him the 31st-most-partisan Senator over that period. The person he replaced, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R, later D-RI), ranked the most bi-partisan during the era. For 2017, Whitehouse ranked 86th out of 98 senators. For the 114th Congress (2015-2016) he ranked 90th out of 98. 
Climate Policy Enemies List
Whitehouse has delivered more than 200 speeches on the Senate floor dedicated to climate change and other environmentalist topics.  He has accused some in the energy industry of acting like “thugs” who “own the joint” (meaning the U.S. Congress), and has declared government officials who oppose him to be “stooges” of the energy industry. 
In a May 2015 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Whitehouse advocated a federal lawsuit against the energy industry using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  Originally designed for and used in criminal cases to prosecute the mafia, RICO has a civil-lawsuit component that has since been applied to corporate targets such as cigarette manufacturers. Whitehouse admitted he did not “have enough information” to know whether “racketeering activity” had actually occurred with the energy industry, but speculated the civil discovery in a RICO lawsuit might uncover the evidence.  In March 2016, then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced she had referred Whitehouse’s RICO concern to the FBI. 
In July 2016, two months after the Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands sent a subpoena demanding private internal research records, communications, and donor information to libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Whitehouse led a group of 19 U.S. Senate Democrats in a two-day series of floor speeches denouncing CEI and many other free-market think tanks, with Whitehouse saying the research organizations were part of a “filthy thing in our democracy.” The Senate campaign was aimed at passage of a Congressional resolution that would have called on the non-profit groups to cooperate with “active or future investigations” of their climate-policy positions that might be launched against them by federal or state law enforcement officials. 
The CEI president responded, saying Whitehouse had become the “new Sen. Joe McCarthy,” and that it “is unhealthy for democracy and abusive when members of Congress create an enemies list based on policy positions.”  A joint letter sent to all of the Democratic Senators from 22 targeted think tanks stated: “Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” 
Whitehouse demanded a more-serious pursuit of a RICO case in 2018 and complained that Democrats still “haven’t done the basic due diligence prosecutors do putting an org chart together against a criminal enterprise.” 
Implying Treasonous Behavior by Center-Right Judicial Groups
Whitehouse was the lead witness during a September 22, 2020, subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee titled: “Maintaining Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Examining the Causes and Consequences of Court Capture.” The committee, controlled by a Democratic-majority, had invited Whitehouse to share his allegation that right-of-center advocacy organizations were exerting an unfair advantage over the selection of appointees to the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.  In a July 2020 news release, jointly signed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D—CA), Whitehouse had accused these ideological opponents of a “decades long effort” to “rig the courts.” 
Whitehouse read to the committee a brief 1100-word opening statement in which he mentioned Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy three times, at one point accusing Leo of playing a lead role in a large network that “has the earmarks of a massive covert operation, screened behind dark-money secrecy, run by a small handful of big special interests, against their own country.” Whitehouse also identified the United States Chamber of Commerce and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell as among the progenitors of this alleged network, which he accused of seeking to roll back “civil rights and women’s rights” and perpetuating “evil that makes other evils possible.” 
After reading his prepared remarks and being thanked by Rep. Hank Johnson (D—GA), the committee chair, Whitehouse stood up, walked out of the hearing room, and refused to take questions. This occurred over the objections of Rep. Jim Jordan (R—OH), who—while Whitehouse was still in the room—asked: “He came in here and leveled all sorts of accusations against Republicans and he is not going to take any questions from us?” Chairman Johnson replied: “Our agreement with the senator is that he would not take questions.” 
In an editorial posted hours later the Wall Street Journal editorial board quoted Whitehouse’s statement and criticized him for making a baseless accusation of treason against mere ideological opponents: “Mr. Whitehouse sees his opponents as treasonous, though all of what he denounces is legal and protected by the First Amendment.” 
The Journal’s editorial board also criticized Whitehouse for “refusing to abide by the normal practice for congressional witnesses of answering questions.” The Journal editors titled their essay “Sheldon Whitehouse Goes Dark: The Senator refuses to take questions about his own dark-money ties,” and stated a theory for why questions were not permitted: 
Mr. Whitehouse knew that, if he answered questions, he was under legal obligation to tell the truth. House Republicans might have asked him about the dark-money outfit Arabella Advisors. This for-profit entity oversees nonprofits including the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund, which together reported nearly a billion dollars in revenue in 2017 and 2018.
Arabella affiliate Demand Justice ran a smear campaign against Brett Kavanaugh and is now calling for Democrats to pack the Supreme Court. Demand Justice bills itself as a “project” of the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund, and in public disclosures it lists the same office address as the two nonprofits. 
One day earlier the Wall Street Journal editorial board posted an editorial anticipating Whitehouse’s testimony and suggested the hearing was “a chance for the Republican minority to ask Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about his ties to what he likes to call “dark money” and court packing.”
Examples of the Journal editorial board’s suggested “Questions for Senator Whitehouse” included: 
When a Daily Caller reporter asked Mr. Whitehouse last year if Demand Justice and groups like it have donated to his campaign, the Senator replied, “hope so.” So has he received money from Demand Justice and other Arabella affiliates? Has he collaborated with them to block President Trump’s judicial nominees? 
[ . . . ] Curious minds may also wonder if any group that directly or indirectly receives funding from Arabella has paid for the briefs Mr. Whitehouse has filed at the Supreme Court. One of those briefs threatened the Court with being “restructured” if it didn’t rule the way he and four Senate colleagues demanded. 
Prior to the September 22 testimony, Rep. Johnson gave Whitehouse a routine warning that written and oral statements provided to the committee by a witness were subject to “penalties of perjury.” Johnson then specifically cited the applicable federal statute.
Past Fossil-Fuel Holdings
In April 2012, Whitehouse began a weekly “climate speech” in the Senate chamber, delivering both his belief in catastrophic climate change and denouncing the fossil-fuel industry for causing it.  In one of these speeches at the end of that year, he praised a student-led campaign to force universities to divest from stocks in the fossil-fuel industry and denounced Congress for being “lulled” by “the narcotic of corporate money—corporate money out of the polluters and their allies.” 
Rhode Island media revealed that while Whitehouse was making those speeches, he had owned “tens of thousands of dollars” worth of stock in Duke Energy, a major supplier of electricity from coal-fired power plants. Additionally, it was revealed, Whitehouse’s financial-disclosure forms going back through 1998 showed significant stock holdings in oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch (Shell), and Phillips Petroleum. Confronted with the report, Whitehouse issued a statement clarifying he had sold his Duke Energy stock in February 2013 – after he had dressed down his fellow lawmakers for imbibing in the “narcotic” of money from “polluters.” 
In October 2017, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a left-wing advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader, referred to Whitehouse as “one of the Senate’s more prolific players in the stock market,” and an example of those with “a high propensity for trading stocks in businesses they directly oversee from their committees.” Members of Congress sometimes obtain valuable investment information before it is known by the general public, putting the politician in position to personally benefit by purchasing (or selling) stocks and other assets related to that special knowledge. Whitehouse has repeatedly been the subject of news reports regarding this behavior. 
Whitehouse sold a substantial amount of stock in the immediate advance of the stock-market collapses which triggered the 2008 financial crisis. Whitehouse and other members of Congress allegedly received the details of a briefing from then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on September 16, 2008, demonstrating financial markets and the economy were in much-greater peril than was then understood. Business Insider reported that Whitehouse sold off between $250,000 and $600,000 of his personal investment holdings within a week of this briefing, avoiding losses of 15 to 40 percent that would hit those securities over the next month..  
In January 2017, Kaiser Health News (KHN) reported that Whitehouse was one of six Senators trading stocks in health and biomedical companies while serving on committees overseeing health-care and health-coverage issues. Of the six, Whitehouse and his family were revealed as the largest holders of such assets, owning between $400,000 and $1.3 million, according to the then-most-recent disclosures. 
A May 2017 Politico investigation revealed Whitehouse, a member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, purchased shares in three pharmaceutical companies ten days before the November 2016 public roll-out of a major bill to speed up the FDA’s drug-approval process. The purchases occurred while lawmakers on relevant committees and drug-industry lobbyists seeking the reform were hammering out details of the proposal behind closed doors, before making it public. Whitehouse and his wife purchased more shares of one of the companies as the proposal passed the U.S. House, and then began selling their stake ten days after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. 
In response to the report, Whitehouse claimed his stockbroker made his trading decisions without his input. Politico noted that some U.S. Senators, such as former Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, put their investments in a blind trust while in office to avoid the perception of trading on inside knowledge but that Whitehouse did not. 
Groundless Brett Kavanaugh Allegations
During the September 2018 confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Jeffrey Catalan, a Rhode Island resident, called Whitehouse’s U.S. Senate office claiming he knew of a rape allegedly committed by Kavanaugh on a boat in Rhode Island during 1985. Catalan also claimed that shortly after the alleged rape, he had both confronted and physically assaulted Kavanaugh as part of an act of vigilante justice for the supposed rape victim.  Three months prior to the making this call, Catalan had started a Twitter account, identifying himself as a Rhode Island resident, and filled it with statements denouncing Republicans and President Trump; some appeared to call for a military coup. 
Whitehouse’s office submitted Catalan’s claim to the FBI, which led to law enforcement questioning him. Kavanaugh categorically denied both the incident and any interaction with Catalan.  Shortly thereafter, Catalan recanted his story, which observers called “groundless.” 
When a Rhode Island news outlet later asked Whitehouse’s office “what steps” were taken by them to confirm the validity of the allegation, the Senator’s office refused to provide an answer. 
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) made a criminal referral of Catalan to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation for making false statements. Whitehouse responded by accusing Republicans of throwing Catalan “under the bus,” and concluding “I hope when things calm down a little bit, there will be appropriate apologies made to our constituent.” 
Whitehouse voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. 
All-White Beach Club
One current and another former officer in the Providence, R.I., chapter of the NAACP criticized Whitehouse in September 2017 for his membership in a private Rhode Island beach club that allegedly had no African-American members.  Whitehouse had reportedly pledged in 2006, during his first campaign for the U.S. Senate, that he would break off his affiliation with both Bailey’s Beach Club and the supposedly “all-male, all-white Bellevue Avenue Reading Room.” 
But in August 2017, Rhode Island news website GoLocalProv reported Whitehouse was both still attending Bailey’s, and had transferred his membership shares to his wife.  The media account stated this made the Whitehouses (with 25 shares) some of the largest stakeholders in a club where America’s “wealthiest and most influential” families might own just five or ten shares. 
After his office had refused to answer questions regarding the matter, Whitehouse was confronted on camera by GoLocalProv. He claimed not to remember when he consolidated ownership shares with his wife, and – regarding the club’s racial diversity – declared he would “take that up privately.” He then ended the discussion. 
GoLocalProv confronted Whitehouse again about the beach club membership in June 2021, just before the first federally recognized Juneteenth holiday, which commemorates the day of slavery emancipation. In an on-camera interview, Whitehouse was reminded by the GoLocalProv reporter of his history regarding the club and that his wife had become “one of the largest shareholders,” and then asked if the club had admitted any non-white members.
“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” replied Whitehouse, who then began walking away from the interview.
In a lone follow-up question, the reporter asked if an “elite, all white, wealthy club” should still exist in the 21st Century. “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, thank you,” answered Whitehouse.
The Washington Post Fact Checker awarded Whitehouse its highest rating for a single deceptive political claim, “Four Pinocchios,” in October 2018.  Whitehouse alleged that Congressional Republicans “say they have got to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.” The Post ruled no such idea had been proposed. The analysis further noted that (excepting for a McConnell statement regarding a hypothetical bi-partisan, major reform plan that would need buy-in from Democrats) Republicans were not even contemplating spending reductions. 
The Post report declared Whitehouse “has no evidence to support his incendiary campaign claim that Republicans want to eliminate these programs” and deemed it “especially bad” that the statement was made by Whitehouse himself (as opposed to a voiceover by someone else on his behalf) in a campaign advertisement for a race where he was winning comfortably. Whitehouse was then polling 24 percentage points ahead of his Republican opponent, and would win by 23 points.