State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) has run into criticism for holding fundraising events at a golf club that does not allow women to be full members. But her campaign said she was unaware of the policy at Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston.
“At no time before, during or after the fundraiser was Senator Phillips or anyone on staff aware of any such policy,” Phillips’ spokeswoman Meagan Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Since learning of this information, the senator has strongly encouraged the leadership to change its policy and informed the club she will no longer hold events there.”
A report in the New York Daily News said Phillips hosted fundraisers at the club in May 2017, March 2018 and September 2018. A Facebook event showed that she also held a golf outing at Wheatley Hills in September 2017.
According to a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former female manager in 2013, the club consisted of 250 “bondholders,” all of whom were men and had purchased a bond for $12,500.
“Only men are bondholders and only men are allowed to be full Club members,” the lawsuit read. “Lesser memberships are available for wives, widows and daughters. Women are not permitted in the men’s grill, the card room, a section of the bar and certain staircases and doorways.”
The lawsuit went on to say that the former female manager’s boss suggested that she put “pornographic” magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse in the men’s locker rooms and bathrooms.
“[He] also suggested that the female servers dress up in sexy costumes on Wednesday nights,” the lawsuit continued.
Phillips’ opponent in the race for state Senate, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, a Democrat, quickly put out a news release criticizing Phillip’s choice of fundraising venue. The email featured comments from several local women’s groups.
“This institution has treated women as second-class citizens for years, barring them from full membership and segregating them from male members,” said Patricia Pastor, the vice president of the National Organization for Women in Nassau. “While [President Donald] Trump continues his attacks on women, we need new leadership in the NY State Senate to stand up for women on Long Island.”
Emily Kadar of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund PAC tied the decision to host the fundraiser to Phillips’ stance on abortion.
“Elaine Phillips has demonstrated repeatedly that she is unwilling to stand up for women’s rights and health, so it is not surprising that her campaign would hold a fundraiser at a venue that discriminates against women,” she said.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.