In June 2019, Bill DeSteph, a State Senator representing Virginia’s 8th district, held a fundraiser in a club which has a sordid history of denying admission to women, Jewish and black Americans.
The fundraiser, tabbed at $125 per person, was hosted at the historically all-male Commonwealth Club in Richmond, Virginia, which was originally founded by former Confederate military officers.
According to the Washington Post, until the late 1970’s, women could only access the Commonwealth Club through a private side-entrance.
To date, the Commonwealth Club still does not permit membership to most women, only allowing lunch privileges to women on Mondays if they join a separate “Woman’s Club” which began in 1894, or if they are in attendance with another male member of the organization.
In 1979, then-State Senator Douglas Wilder called the club “a racist club, a retreat from the world where social gains are being made.”
According to reporting by the Washington Post, after immense public outcry from civil rights groups, the club was finally forced to accept black members in 1988, accepting just one prominent Richmond physician at the time.
The Commonwealth Club also reportedly did not admit members of Jewish faith until the mid 1960’s.
On July 13, Blue Virginia reported that Bill DeSteph posted a video to his Facebook page in 2010 by an anti-Muslim activist who claimed that all Muslims have a “dual Muslim nature,” pretending to love America while secretly plotting against Americans.
In November, DeSteph is running for reelection to represent Virginia’s 8th District in the State Senate.