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2003-05-06

"The Bookie of Virtue": Moral Crusader and Former Drug Czar Bill Bennett Made Millions Lecturing People On Morality-and Blew $8 Million On High Stakes Gambling

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He served as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Ronald Reagan.

He was Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

He is the co-chair of the National Commission on Civic Renewal and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. And he is the author and editor of 14 books, including the best selling book "The Book of Virtues". His most recent project is Americans for Victory Over Terrorism and he has recently written a new book called "Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism".

He is William Bennett and he plays low-stakes poker with a group of prominent conservatives, including Robert Bork, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

In his famous Book of Virtues, he writes: "We should know that too much of anything, even a good thing, may prove to be our undoing...[We] need ... to set definite boundaries on our appetites."

But according reports in two magazines last week, William Bennett is a high stakes gambler. He has lost more than $8 million in casinos from Atlantic City to Las Vegas.

The article in the Washington Monthly is headlined: "Bookie of Virtues"; the headline in Newsweek asks a question: "Virtue Is as Virtue Does?". Those breaking stories generated further unflattering headlines around the world. The Ottawa Citizen reports: "Anti-Drug Crusader Can’t Say No to Gambling" and the Guardian of London blares: "Voice of morality exposed as chronic casino loser."

In a statement released yesterday, William Bennett said: "A number of stories in the media have reported that I have engaged in high-stakes gambling over the past decade. It is true that I have gambled large sums of money. I have also complied with all laws on reporting wins and losses. Nevertheless, I have done too much gambling, and this is not an example I wish to set. Therefore, my gambling days are over."

  • Joshua Green, Editor of Washington Monthly. He wrote the article "The Bookie of Virtue: William J. Bennett has made millions lecturing people on morality—and blown it on gambling."
  • Rev. Tom Grey, Executive Director of National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion based in Rockford, Illinois.

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