‘Oprah’ scandal forces Provincetown tourism director to resign

Steve Desroches

Administrative tourism director Bill Schneider resigned Tuesday in the wake of his confession that he lied about a self-published book being chosen as part of “The Oprah Winfrey Book Club.”

Schneider issued a public statement briefly outlining what he believes his achievements were over the three yeas he was at the helm of the tourism office in town hall. The statement makes no mention of the scandal that cast a dark cloud over what had previously been a sterling reputation in town.

“I am very proud of the numerous projects I have implemented which enhance, promote, beautify and market our very special town,” said Schneider in his written statement released Tuesday afternoon. “However, as I wish to pursue various personal projects, this chapter of my time in Provincetown has come to a close.”

Reached by phone late Tuesday Schneider declined to speak further on the issue, but did say he has no plans to leave Provincetown.

Town officials planned to investigate whether or not Schneider abused his office with the proliferation of numerous and elaborate lies he told about his work as a writer.

However, he resigned before such an investigation was completed.

Selectwoman Lynne Davies caught some peripheral and brief heat as she, free of charge, worked on Schneider’s Web site, including posting the fake transcript. The State Ethics Commission found that she did not violate any conflicts of interest laws.

Davies has since filed a notice of disclosure with the town clerk’s office to address any appearance of a conflict of interest. Davies was chairwoman of the Visitor Services Board, the volunteer town committee that works with the administrative tourism director at the time Schneider was hired.

Schneider, who self-published three novelettes, told The Cape Codder and many other reporters and townspeople that he appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in June and that his most recent book, "Crossed Paths" was chosen as part of her popular book club. His Web site gave details of his fictional appearance and there was a link to a five-page transcript of the 10-minute segment that supposedly featured Schneider, which he wrote himself. There was even a framed image of the cover of his book with a small metal plaque that, he says, is a special award for the sale of his book, which he said skyrocketed after his appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Harpo Productions in Chicago confirmed last week that Schneider was never a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and that his book was not part of the book club.

The bizarre story of the runaway lie was not only widely covered in Cape Cod and Boston press, but continues to be the topic of Web sites and blogs based all over the world.