Who Is Sheldon Whitehouse's Wife? New Details On Sandra Thornton Whitehouse

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Since 2007, Sheldon Whitehouse has served as a junior U.S. Senator from Rhode Island as a member of the Democratic Party. But he didn’t always have a career in politics, serving as the United States Attorney for Rhode Island from 1994 to 1999, and as the Attorney General of Rhode Island from 1999 to 2003. He clerked for Judge Richard F. Neely, of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, from 1982 to 1983, and worked as a special assistant attorney general from 1985 to 1990 in the Rhode Island Attorney General's office.

Most recently, Whitehouse jumped into the spotlight for his line of questioning in Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing amidst his sexual assault allegations, specifically, Kavanaugh’s use of “Devil’s Triangle” in his yearbook. The term has spread around the internet since, as he referred to “Devil’s Triangle” as a drinking game, when it’s actually... not.


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But what about his family? How have they dealt with his name being thrown around recently in the news and media? And who is Sheldon Whitehouse’s wife, specifically? Here are 8 things to know about Sandra Thornton Whitehouse.

1. She’s a twin.

Yes, that’s right! Thornton has a twin sister named Elena. She also has another sister named Nina Rosalie.

2. The couple married in 1986.

The two wed at the St. George's School Chapel in Newport, Rhode Island, surrounded by friends and family. The two later went on to have two children, Mary Elena (called Molly) and Alexander.

3. Their son has been in legal trouble.

In 2012, their son was charged with a DUI. According to the police report, he consumed three beers and four shots of gin while at a friend’s home. His BAC was .09, and a search of the car found empty bottles. He eventually pled guilty.

The family released a statement that said, “[We are] deeply concerned and upset by our son's poor judgment...but we love Alexander and we will deal with this as a family.”

4. She comes from a prominent family.

Thornton is the daughter of Henry Herman Mumm Thornton, who was a banker and businessman. He was frequently in correspondence with his stepfather, essayist Edmund Wilson, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Her grandfather, James Worth Thornton, and his family were involved in the railroad business and came from a privileged upbringing. Her grandmother, a wealthy aristocrat, was a descendent of Prussian nobility that traces back to the 1300s!


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5. She’s a marine biologist.

She’s not involved in politics at all, which is probably refreshing for her. She received her bachelor’s degree from Yale, a master’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.

6. She’s the chief scientific officer at AltaSea.

AltaSea is a “35-acre ocean-research campus at the Port of Los Angeles.” Prior to this job, she served as the chair of the Coastal Resources Management Council.

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7. She and her husband are environmentalists.

Like her husband, she is interested in preserving the oceans and environment. She’s currently the Senior Political Advisor to Ocean Conservancy, which focuses on acidification of the seas, as well as ocean planning and trash-free seas. She also previously served as chair of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and was on the board for Save the Bay, and the Nature Conservancy.

8. The right has criticized her in the past.

In 2013, a less-than-notable conservative news outlet, The Daily Caller, claimed there was a conflict of interest between Thornton’s work with environmental organizations, and Whitehouse’s efforts to increase funding for programs related to it.

According to Caleb Gibson, a spokesman for the Whitehouses, “There is no conflict of interest between Senator Whitehouse’s work and Dr. Whitehouse’s work... They each follow the rules of the Senate that govern these issues. Dr. Whitehouse is not a registered lobbyist, nor does she lobby the senator or his office on legislation.”


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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.