Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Although Utah's Senator Robert Bennett was first elected in 1992, he is no stranger to politics or the U.S. Senate. He is the son of former four-term U.S. Senator Wallace F. Bennett, and has had a distinguished career in public service himself. Senator Bennett sits on several Senate committees, including the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the funding of the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a steadfast believer that the arts and humanities contribute to the preservation and enrichment of American culture and has spoken out on such issues for many years. An accomplished businessman, Senator Bennett recognizes federal spending on the arts is a way for the United States to keep an edge in world trade. American entrepreneurial spirit, he believes, is intricately linked to the creativity of the arts. In 1995 Senator Bennett co-authored the National Endowment for the Arts Restructuring Act, whose objective was to streamline the agency, make public art funding more accountable and help generate broad support for the arts. In 1997 Senator Bennett participated in the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences symposium on Arts Advocacy Day titled "The Arts Make America Rich" in support of increased NEA funding. That same year, Utahns recognized Senator Bennett's commitment to the arts by awarding him the prestigious Governor's Award in the Arts, an award not often bestowed on elected officials.
Another issue close to his heart is education, and the importance of incorporating the arts in education, particularly in poor and rural school districts. In fact, when Senator Bennett delivers what are regarded as some of the most compelling Senate floor statement in support of federal funding of the arts, he regularly cites home-spun examples of the local impact of the arts in rural Utah towns from Beaver to Coalville. Behind the scenes, Senator Bennett serves as a consensus builder for the arts, most recently garnering wide bipartisan support for this amendment to increase the FY2000 budget for the NEA. Prior to serving in public office, Senator Bennett was the CEO of Franklin-Quest, now Franklin-Covey, having taken the firm from a four-person venture to a 700-person firm with annual sales above $80 million. He and his wife Joyce are the parents of six children.