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Aide: State Sen. Elaine Phillips didn't know golf club restricted women

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill)

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) Credit: Office of State Sen. Elaine Phillips/Mark L. Emerson

A Long Island senator said Friday she was unaware a golf course hosting three of her fundraisers only allowed men to be full members — and is now urging the club to change its policies.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) came under criticism from her Democratic election challenger, Anna Kaplan, and some women’s advocacy groups for holding political events at the Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston in 2017 and 2018. The Daily News first reported the fundraisers.

Phillips and Kaplan, a North Hempstead Town board member, are locked in a closely watched contest that could determine control of the State Senate.

Wheatley Hills was the subject of a 2013 discrimination lawsuit filed by a former female manager of the club. In court documents, the former manager disclosed that women could obtain only limited memberships in the club. Further, she said her boss wanted waitresses to wear skimpy dresses and Playboy magazines to be placed in the men’s locker rooms.

Phillips' campaign said it was unaware of the controversy until it was contacted by the media.

“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 of the club memberships. “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.”

Campaign finance records show Phillips’ campaign paid Wheatley Hills $3,000 to host each fundraiser.

Kaplan's campaign called Phillips’ use of Wheatley Hills “shameful” in a time of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

“Institutions like Wheatley Hill, that ban women from certain areas and have anti-women policies, are a sad example” of how “women are still treated in our society,” said Tess McRae, Kaplan campaign aide. “It is shameful that Senator Phillips would choose to promote herself and to financially support such an institution.”

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