Dole campaign communications director was drug dealer.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 96 23:49:04 -0700
Subject: Dole campaign communications director was drug dealer.
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Further forwards lost in a cloud of smoke.]
Sorry, I was swept up by the latest Dole Campaign ads about our political
leaders not "gettting it" about the perniciousness of drugs. Had to add my
own inflammatory, alarmist headline to make sure everyone got the message.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Phoenix is a large "alternative" weekly
paper publishing throughout the region of New England around Boston - there
are Worcester and Providence editions. It's been breaking stories like this
one for coming up on twenty-five years now. New editions are generally
available Thursday evenings.
John Buckley smoked pot in college. He also sold pot. No big deal. But
now he's the communications director for Bob Dole. A Phoenix exclusive.
by Gareth Cook
During a recent controversy over the drug pasts of White House staffers,
presidential press secretary Mike McCurry made a simple statement. "I was
a kid in the 1970s," he said. "Did I smoke a joint from time to time? Of
course I did."
Given that some 66 million Americans have tried marijuana (according to
a government estimate), and given that so many Republicans - Newt Gingrich
and Susan Molinari, for instance - freely admit that they have used it,
one might think that the country would be ready for a little honesty.
The Dole campaign apparently doesn't think so. "No wonder we're losing
the war on drugs," said Dole after a government report last month showed
a jump in teenage drug use (mostly marijuana), "when you've got such a
big problem in the White House itself."
Dole also ordered up a campaign ad that shows a Clinton appearance on MTV
in 1992, with the color drained for a grainy black-and-white effect.
Clinton is asked if he would inhale marijuana the second time around. He
gives a joking yes, and suggests that he actually tried to inhale the
Having experimented with pot, the Dole ad implies, the president doesn't
care about the drug problem. "He just doesn't get it," the announcer
intones ominously. "But we do." It's a line Dole likes to repeat on the
campaign trail. And if the message - however hypocritical - continues to
play well, Dole strategists will no doubt order more ads.
But now, a Phoenix investigation has revealed, the Dole campaign has a
drug past of its own to contend with. John Buckley is the communications
director of the Bob Dole campaign. He is one of the top aides crafting
the candidate's anti-drug message. He is also, according to numerous
reliable reports, no stranger to drugs himself. As a student at Hampshire
College in the late 1970s he smoked pot, according to four classmates who
have requested anonymity, and one who has allowed his name to be used.
Two of the classmates also allege that he sold marijuana on campus.
One of the classmates - who says he smoked marijuana with Buckley, and
also bought marijuana from him - describes "an elegant briefcase" in which
Buckley carried "vials with samples of different buds." You could "sample
them," the classmate says, before making a purchase.
"This story is nonsense," responds Gary Koops, Buckley's deputy at the
Dole campaign. Buckley himself declined to respond.
That Buckley even attended Hampshire, a bastion of liberalism if ever
there was one, is strange enough. His uncle is William F. Buckley,
founder of the National Review and one of the century's leading
conservative figures. And James L. Buckley, a former Republican senator
from New York, is another uncle. (John is also a cousin of journalist
But John Buckley is not your average conservative. After college,
according to a New York Times profile, he worked as a freelance music
critic for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. He also contributed to
the New York Rocker, an underground rock 'zine. His uncle William is
independent-minded on the issue of drugs: he has long called for drug
legalization (except for minors), and an end to the drug war.
Since Buckley attended Hampshire in the late 1970s - he was graduated in
1979 - it's hardly surprising that he was caught up in the drug scene.
"Sure, he smoked pot," says Ed Benfey, who lived in the same building with
Buckley, "but that's not a big deal. John was like everyone else."
"It's hard to imagine anyone being there and not being a part of that,"
says Ralph Mossman, who started at Hampshire in 1977, but did not know
Buckley. "People came to Hampshire to buy . . . cocaine, LSD, peyote.
Everything but aspirin."
Benfey says he doesn't specifically remember Buckley ever selling
marijuana, and if he did, says Benfey, it was as a "casual dealer." But
two classmates do remember him selling pot.
It also seems clear that Buckley did not have a drug "problem." "He was
always very disciplined," says one classmate who saw Buckley smoke pot at
parties, but who requested anonymity. "He was more together than a lot of
people there at the time."
Benfey agrees, noting that Buckley was "not a 'serious partier.'"
Indeed, it appears he did what a lot of college kids in the '70s did. He
smoked pot socially, in a milieu where it was viewed no different from
having a glass of wine with dinner. And he sold pot to friends when he
came across a bargain.
What seems lost in the latest wave of drug hysteria - fueled by the Bob
Dole campaign - is a sense of perspective. There's a big difference
between smoking pot and abusing heroin or cocaine. And to conflate the
two is not just dishonest; it is dangerous. Think of all the people who
try marijuana and discover that it doesn't fry the brain like an egg
cracked into a frying pan, to steal an image from one of the old anti-drug
campaigns. How likely are they then to believe warnings about the truly
It is also hypocrisy to pretend that marijuana, and drug use in general,
was not widespread in the 1970s. John Buckley - by all accounts a decent
man, and an intelligent and talented press secretary - surely understands
Perhaps now he can explain it to his boss.
© 1996 Peter Langston