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Democrat

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D)

Sheldon Whitehouse Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-224-2921

Address: 530 HSOB, DC 20510

State Office Contact Information

Phone: (401) 453-5294

Address: 170 Westminster Street, Providence RI 02903-2109

Sheldon Whitehouse Staff
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Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Ho, Bruce
Energy and Environmental Counsel
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Handelsman, Dylan
Legislative Correspondent
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Armitage, Karen
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Wyman, Julie
Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
Armitage, Karen
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Gaeta, Joseph
Legislative Director
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Handelsman, Dylan
Legislative Correspondent
Wyman, Julie
Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Ho, Bruce
Energy and Environmental Counsel
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Wyman, Julie
Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor
Armitage, Karen
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Bradley, Paula
Senior Field Representative
Caruolo, David
Associate Legislative Assistant
Crosson, Aida
Director of Community Affairs
Davidson, Richard
Rhode Island Press Secretary
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Esten, Anna
Legislative Correspondent
Gaeta, Joseph
Legislative Director
Gibson, Caleb
Deputy Communications Director
Handelsman, Dylan
Legislative Correspondent
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Ho, Bruce
Energy and Environmental Counsel
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Larson, Seth
Communications Director
Livingston, Mary
Administrative Director
Paolino, Anthony
Veteran's Affairs and Project Coordinator
Ritter, Rele
Deputy State Director
Seigle, Leah
Director of Scheduling
Spencer, Vivian
Special Projects Coordinator
Tsimikas, Katie
Rhode Island Scheduler
Wyman, Julie
Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor
DeAngelis, Jennifer
Senior Health Policy Advisor
Dwyer, Lacy
Senior National Security Policy Advisor
Enderle, Emily
Environmental Policy Advisor
Wyman, Julie
Ocean and Coastal Policy Advisor
Larson, Seth
Communications Director
Paolino, Anthony
Veteran's Affairs and Project Coordinator
Spencer, Vivian
Special Projects Coordinator
Ho, Bruce
Energy and Environmental Counsel
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Gibson, Caleb
Deputy Communications Director
Crosson, Aida
Director of Community Affairs
Livingston, Mary
Administrative Director
Ritter, Rele
Deputy State Director
Seigle, Leah
Director of Scheduling
Armitage, Karen
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow
Barber, Brenna
Legislative Assistant
Caruolo, David
Associate Legislative Assistant
Esten, Anna
Legislative Correspondent
Handelsman, Dylan
Legislative Correspondent
Harrison, Nina
Legislative Correspondent
Gaeta, Joseph
Legislative Director
Karetny, Josh
Chief Economic Counsel; Deputy Legislative Director
Bradley, Paula
Senior Field Representative
Tsimikas, Katie
Rhode Island Scheduler
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Sheldon Whitehouse Committees
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Sheldon Whitehouse Biography
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  • Elected: 2006, term expires 2018, 2nd term.
  • State: Rhode Island
  • Born: Oct. 20, 1955, New York City
  • Home: Providence
  • Education:

    Yale U., B.A. 1978, U. of VA, J.D. 1982

  • Professional Career:

    RI spec. asst. atty. gen., 1984-90; Legal counsel, Gov. Bruce Sundlun, 1991; Policy director, Gov. Bruce Sundlun, 1992; Director, RI Dept. of Business Regulation, 1992-1994; U.S. atty. for RI, 1994-1998; Practicing atty., 2003-2006.

  • Political Career:

    RI Atty. Gen., 1998-2002.

  • Ethnicity: White/Caucasian
  • Religion:

    Protestant

  • Family: Married (Sandra); 2 children

Rhode Island’s junior senator is Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat elected in 2006. He is a persistent warrior for his party’s liberal wing who champions a full marquee of its causes—climate change, gun control, income equality, campaign finance reform, and same-sex marriage. Read More

Rhode Island’s junior senator is Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat elected in 2006. He is a persistent warrior for his party’s liberal wing who champions a full marquee of its causes—climate change, gun control, income equality, campaign finance reform, and same-sex marriage.

Whitehouse is a wealthy descendant of Charles Crocker, one of California’s “Big Four” men who built the Central Pacific Railroad, the eastbound section of railroad that connected with the Union Pacific line at Promontory Summit, Utah, to form the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. His grandfather was a diplomat, and so was his father, Charles Whitehouse, a World War II Marine Corps pilot who became U.S. ambassador to Laos and Thailand in the 1970s. Sheldon Whitehouse was born in New York City and spent his formative years overseas, including in Cambodia, South Africa, the Philippines, and Guinea; as a teenager, he taught English to Vietnamese children in Saigon. He graduated from St. Paul’s preparatory school, Yale College, and the University of Virginia Law School. Afterward, Whitehouse clerked for an appeals court judge and then moved to Rhode Island to take a job as an assistant state attorney general.

He was appointed a top staffer for Gov. Bruce Sundlun in 1991 and served two years as head of the state’s department of business regulation. In 1994, on the recommendation of Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell, a family friend, Whitehouse was appointed U.S. attorney for Rhode Island. Whitehouse launched an undercover investigation that resulted in the conviction of Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci for public corruption. He also focused on environmental cleanup, leading an investigation that resulted in the largest fine in state history for an oil spill in Narragansett Bay.

In 1998, Whitehouse ran for state attorney general. In the three-way Democratic primary, his opponents portrayed him as an inexperienced, fox-hunting patrician trying to buy his way into public office. But Whitehouse was better known in the state than his opponents, and he got the nomination. In the general election, state Treasurer Nancy Mayer forced Whitehouse to concede that he had tried drugs as a student and questioned whether he was tough enough for the job. Whitehouse told The Providence Journal, “The book on me was, ‘Smart kid, works hard, but, you know, has no common touch, can’t relate to people, will be a disaster.’ In fact, I got advice from some political types to run sort of a Rose Garden strategy. You know, ‘Don’t go out, don’t let people see you, ’cause if they see you, they’re not going to like you. Just mail your resume around, you know, and spend a lot of money on television.’” But the tide began to turn after Mayer ran highly negative ads on the drug issue that backfired in the absence of evidence that the incident was more than a short chapter from Whitehouse’s distant past. He won the election, 67% to 33%.

By 2002, Whitehouse was widely viewed as a contender for governor. He ran but lost the Democratic primary by 926 votes to Myrth York, who outspent Whitehouse by more than 2-to-1 and lost in November to Republican Donald Carcieri.

Whitehouse also considered running for the Senate in 1999, when four-term incumbent John Chafee announced he would not seek a fifth term. But then, Chafee, a Yale roommate of Whitehouse’s father, died that November, and Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed the senator’s son, Lincoln Chafee, then mayor of Warwick, to fill the vacancy. The following year, Chafee won a full term. In the Senate, Chafee sided with Democrats often enough that there was frequent speculation that he would switch parties. In 2006, Chafee was opposed in the Republican primary by Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, a conservative and a sharp-elbowed campaigner who was backed by the national anti-tax group Club for Growth. Though Chafee won the September primary, 54%-46%, he had little cash left after the fight.

Whitehouse challenged Chaffee and had a relatively easy time in the Democratic primary. In the fall, there was little daylight between the candidates on issues—both backed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, abortion rights, and gun control—so Whitehouse campaigned against the then-unpopular Bush administration, running ads with the tagline, “Finally, a Whitehouse in Washington you can trust.” Whitehouse won 54% to 46%. He won 72% of the vote in Providence, 66% in Pawtucket, 61% in East Providence, 64% in Woonsocket, and 77% in Central Falls. Chafee won 54% in Warwick, he carried Kingston and Westerly’s Washington County, and he ran not much better than even in Newport and Bristol counties. Whitehouse was one of eight new Democratic senators whose election gave the party a majority in the Senate.

Whitehouse consistently has been among the Senate’s leading liberals. He gave the keynote speech at the Netroots Nation conference of liberal bloggers in 2012 and successfully worked to lure the following year’s conference to Providence. He supported President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill in 2009 and said he’d even like to see a second stimulus bill focused entirely on the nation’s infrastructure. Whitehouse’s tendency toward hyperbole occasionally sparks controversy. He irked conservatives when he said on the Senate floor that opposition to Obama’s health care reform measure was driven in part by “right-wing militias and Aryan support groups.” He also charged in October 2012 that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint “gets rid of Medicare in 10 years and turns it into a voucher program,” which the fact-checking site PolitiFact rated as false.

But Whitehouse can be stubborn about sticking up for his causes. For several years, he has taken to the Senate floor to give speeches about the perils of climate change, accusing Congress in January 2013 of “sleepwalking through history” for not paying enough attention to the problem. He and like-minded Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., formed a joint House-Senate task force on the issue that month. Whitehouse also loudly clamored for a Senate vote on the “Buffett Rule” imposing higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans blocked it from clearing the necessary 60-vote hurdle in April 2012. Whitehouse has become the ideological heir to former Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in seeking to control the influence of money in elections.

He sponsored successful 2010 legislation that authorized the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of television ads. His amendment facilitating prosecution of anyone using lasers to attack airplanes passed the Senate 96-1 in 2011. On other issues, Whitehouse, with Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, cosponsored a bill in 2009 to free users of credit cards carrying interest rates 15% above Treasury bonds from the obligation to repay in bankruptcy proceedings. When cyber security legislation became hung up in partisan battles in 2012, Whitehouse worked with conservative Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl to hammer out a compromise, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid then refused to advance.

Whitehouse first gained recognition in Congress as a fierce Bush administration critic on the Judiciary Committee. He blasted Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez for firing U.S. attorneys for what Democrats alleged were political motivations. After Gonzalez resigned, Whitehouse opposed the nomination of Michael Mukasey for refusing to say whether water boarding was an illegal tactic against terrorism detainees. After Obama’s election, he became a stalwart administration defender. When the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre asserted at a January 2013 committee hearing that only 62 firearm purchases denied by the federal instant-check system had been referred for prosecution, Whitehouse shot back that the actual number was 11,700 in 2012, or “a lot more than 62.” During a 2012 campaign appearance in Rhode Island, Vice President Joe Biden said he had offered to put forward Whitehouse’s name for the Supreme Court, but that the senator refused, citing his desire to serve his full term.

In heavily Democratic Rhode Island, Whitehouse entered the 2012 campaign season as a clear favorite. His Republican opponent was software executive Barry Hinckley, who campaigned as a moderate on social issues despite calling for the repeal of the health care reform law and supporting offshore oil drilling. But he faced an uphill battle, and Whitehouse won 65%-35%.

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Sheldon Whitehouse Election Results
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2012 General
Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Votes: 271,034
Percent: 64.96%
B. Barrett Hinckley (R)
Votes: 146,222
Percent: 35.04%
2012 Primary
Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Votes: 60,754
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2006 (54%)
Sheldon Whitehouse Votes and Bills
Back to top NJ Vote Ratings

National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 74 (L) : 25 (C) 95 (L) : - (C) 88 (L) : - (C)
Social 73 (L) : - (C) 64 (L) : - (C) 52 (L) : - (C)
Foreign 71 (L) : - (C) 57 (L) : 40 (C) 62 (L) : 35 (C)
Composite 82.2 (L) : 17.8 (C) 79.3 (L) : 20.7 (C) 77.8 (L) : 22.2 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC00
LCV100100
CFG210
ITIC-50
NTU711
20112012
COC45-
ACLU-75
ACU00
ADA10090
AFSCME100-
Key Senate Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block faith exemptions
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve gas pipeline
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve farm bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Let cyber bill proceed
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block Gitmo transfers
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass balanced budget amendment
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Stop EPA climate regulations
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Proceed to Cordray vote
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Require talking filibuster
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Limit Fannie/Freddie
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Ratify New START
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Confirm Elena Kagan
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop EPA climate regs
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Block release of TARP funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $787 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Repeal DC gun laws
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Confirm Sonia Sotomayor
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar budget rules for climate bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass 2010 budget resolution
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let judges adjust mortgages
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow FDA to regulate tobacco
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Protect gays from hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cut F-22 funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Label North Korea terrorist state
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Build Guantanamo replacement
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow federal funds for abortion
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cap greenhouse gases
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase missile defense $
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Make English official language
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Path to citizenship
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Fetus is unborn child
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Prosecute hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 3/08
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Iran guard is terrorist group
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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