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Complaint: Whitehouse Was Committing The Ethics Violations He Projected Onto Supreme Court Justices

While leading Democrats’ smears against constitutionalist Supreme Court justices, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was engaging in actual corruption, says the complaint.


Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse allegedly spent the last 17 years in the Senate pushing legislation that directly benefits the environmentalist groups that pay his wife.

A 21-page ethics complaint, filed by Judicial Watch last month, alleges Whitehouse abused his congressional position to enrich himself and his wife, Sandra Thorton Whitehouse, president of the consulting firm Ocean Wonks. She also raked in millions consulting for Ocean Conservancy and sat on the advisory board at AltaSea from 2015 to 2018, says the complaint.

Whitehouse is Democrats’ lead man in their effort to destroy the credibility of the Supreme Court with sham ethics grievances and dark money allegations. He only became interested in scrutinizing the court’s “ethics” code when it became politically and personally profitable to target the conservative-controlled court.

Not only has Whitehouse refused to probe Democrat-nominated justices’ decades-long ethics violations, he’s also spent the last 15 years skirting criticism for his conflicts of interest and dark money deals. The Senate Ethics Code prohibits members from using the “prestige or influence of a position in the Senate for personal gain.”

Over his nearly two decades in office, however, Whitehouse allegedly orchestrated and sponsored several pieces of legislation that “contains authorization for, and appropriation of, numerous federal environmental programs that fund activities undertaken by his wife’s clients, which constitute a ‘limited class’ of beneficiaries for such federal funds.”

Just two years after taking office, Whitehouse penned a letter for the U.S. Department of
Transportation to approve a $22 million grant for a company that planned to lease offshore land in Providence, Rhode Island to Deepwater Wind. Three weeks later, Deepwater Wind hired Whitehouse’s wife as a consultant.

Whitehouse repeatedly denied his wife consulted for Deepwater even after the company issued a press release boasting about her employment and local media outlets highlighted the suspect agreement.

Whitehouse also supported nearly two dozen bills that specifically benefitted either his wife’s companies or her consulting clients. Legislation like the 2020 Save Our Seas Act 2.0 is responsible for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants to Ocean Conservancy, which endorsed the bill. To this day, Ocean Conservancy pays Whitehouse’s wife and features content written by Whitehouse on its website.

“Thus, if a Senator’s official activities pecuniarily benefit himself or his family (who are members of a ‘limited class’), the Senator is ‘disqualifi[ ed] from involvement with the legislation’ and his disqualification ‘should be total.’ The Senator should abstain from voting on such legislation (or taking other action), and ‘the Senator would have to state that he was abstaining because of a conflict of interest,’” the complaint reads.

Despite his long and public history of pushing bills that directly benefit companies his wife financially benefits from, Whitehouse has not made an effort to disqualify himself or abstain from legislation that enriches his family, says the complaint.

The complaint’s author, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, ended the document by asking Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Chris Coons and ranking member James Lankford to subpoena and investigate Whitehouse under Senate Resolution 338.

“Given Senator Whitehouse’s longstanding practice of sponsoring or cosponsoring legislation that directly benefits his wife and/or her clients, we urge the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a preliminary investigation to disinter the full extent of Mrs. Whitehouse’s consulting activities, with both for-profit and nonprofit entities, that may create a reasonable appearance of a conflict of interest with Senator Whitehouse’s official duties,” the complaint concludes.

Whitehouse did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment. A spokeswoman for Whitehouse previously accused the complaint of being “the latest in a long string of erroneous conspiracy theories” from a “dark-money” organization.

“The billionaires behind this group would like to try to stem Senator Whitehouse’s efforts to shine a light on what they’ve done to block progress on the issues Americans overwhelmingly support. But far-right special interests will not slow down the Senator’s push for accountability on behalf of the American people,” she told the New York Post.

[READ MORE: Democrat Sen. Whitehouse Says His Exclusive Beach Club’s All-White Membership Is Simply ‘Tradition’]

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