Ambassador2 Melvin Sembler, wife Betty & Straight:
should they be ambassadors of
national drug policy or jailed?

by Wesley Fager © 2003 (updated 3/30/05)


They [groups hoping to profit from drug legalization] don't care about civil liberties or our nation's children. . . They only care about getting rich . . .
Betty Sembler, from a letter[1] dated July 6, 2004 to a US Representative.

Melvin Sembler is the US ambassador to Italy and like most ambassadors appointed by George Bush he bought his way in so--so what. Melvin Sembler and his wife Betty Sembler have dark pasts--that's what. Pasts dealing with abuse of teens on a grand scale. Read Overview of Straight Abuses. And now they feel those pasts uniquely qualify them above all others to set national and international drug policy. Read now the Semblers' plan for a national drug strategy by making all teens pee in a bottle as a rite of passage to get their driver's license.

Be sure to read the companion article about Mel and Betty taking sites on international demand reduction in Ambassador Melvin Sembler & wife Betty: supporters of juvenile rehab abuses and self-proclaimed international drug policy experts.


Melvin and Betty Sembler: self proclaimed drug policy experts.

As a drug prevention and policy expert, caring mother and grandmother, I urge you--do not vote for the Hinchey- Rohrabacher amendment. .......
Betty Sembler, from a letter [1] dated July 6, 2004 to a US Representative.

Some think that Melvin and Betty Sembler should have gone to prison for what their Straight program did to tens of thousands of teenagers--but that will never happen. Instead Mr. Sembler bought into Republican politics and is now the US Ambassador to Italy. His Drug Free America Foundation (formerly called Straight Foundation) is one of the major power brokers setting national and international drug policy. In 1988 Melvin Sembler recommended a novel solution to the US drug problem. "Test every 16-year-old for drugs before we issue a drivers license," he declared then.[17] It appears that Mel and Betty Sembler, through their DFAF, are trying to realize this unconstitutional goal. But who will be paid to do the actual testing? The DFAF does not do drug testing but its partner National Drug and Alcohol Testing, Inc. in St. Petersburg does. NDATI received $234,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1998. Calvina Fay, executive director of DFAF, used to operate a drug testing company. Just before coming to DFAF she was the director of the Houston Drug-Free Business Initiative which had as a charter sponsor Drug Screens, Inc.--a drug testing company. Calvina's former Houston group got $170,000 from the SBA while DFAF itself took in $314,539. Read now how Mel and Betty Sembler have turned the knowledge they have gained about drugs from treating children at Straight, Inc. into a formula for setting national and international drug policy. Read how they have been the major force chipping away at the Fourth Amendment to make our kids pee in a bottle in order to get their driver's license.

The Semblers' and DFAF's National Drug Control Strategy

Initiative 1. Make all Americans under age 40 be drug tested

1A Make high school ATHLETES pee in a jar. In 1992 in Veronia School District vs Acton an Oregon school district tried to force high school athletes to undergo drug testing in violation of their IV Amendment right protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizures. This was an easy sale because a good argument can be made that contact sports players are at a greater risk of injury if they are on drugs. Veronica School District called in former drug czar and founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Robert DuPont, MD to be its expert witness. Dr. DuPont testified that suspicionless drug testing of high school athletes was for their own good. The courts ruled in favor of suspicionless drug testing of school athletes.

But wait. DuPont is tied to The Seed, Straight, DFAF and had a big-time financial conflict of interest to boot. Betty Sembler was Jeb Bush's finance co-chair when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Florida. After that he created the Foundation for Florida's Future to keep his political machine alive. Major contributors to his foundation were Melvin Sembler and H. Wayne Huizenga. Among other enterprises, Huizenga owns Psychemedics -- the world's premier drug hair testing company. Robert DuPont is the chairman of the scientific advisory board for Psychemedics. DuPont has partnered with former DEA head Peter Bensinger to form Bensinger and DuPont. One contract they have is to prescreen workers for the US Post Office for illegal drug use. It is the biggest prescreening program in the world. Thus while it may be in a kid's best interest to be tested before playing sports, Dr. DuPont possibly stands to make money by testing them for drugs! Furthermore, Robert DuPont is on the Advisory Board for DFAF along with Florida Governor Jeb Bush. When he headed NIDA Dr. DuPont oversaw the government grant to The Seed. Later DuPont left federal service and became a paid consultant for Straight! In fact he has testified that it was his suggestion that Straight go national. Dr. DuPont has testified for Straight as an expert witness in many of its civil suits for abusing kids.

1B Make high school kids participating in ANY school activity (including the history club or chess club) pee in a jar. Getting the courts to suspend a child athlete's Fourth Amendment rights is easy--just argue it's for his own good because he could get hurt more easily in contact sports if he's high on drugs. But getting the courts to agree to do the same for a girl in the glee club was more challenging. The case which again went to the US Supreme Court for that was Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma Petitioner v. Earls Respondent. David Evans of The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs wrote an Amicus Curiae brief for the court in favor of the testing. But Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF, is a cofounder of Evans' Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs and Evans is also a member of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, a DFAF subsidiary. Among the signers of the brief were: Drug Free America Foundation; Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs; Institute on Global Drug Policy; Eric Voth, MD, director of Institute on Global Drug Policy; Bensinger DuPont & Associates; Robert L. Dupont, MD; Peter Bensinger; Julie Murdoch, Esq. of Bensinger, DuPont & Associates; Donald Ian Macdonald, MD--Straight's former national research director turned White House Drug Czar; Stephanie Haynes, Save Our Society From Drugs™--a Betty Sembler foundation. In other words not only did Straight's former paid advisor, now DFAF Advisory Board member, Robert DuPont sign, but his business partner Peter Bensinger signed, their business signed, and Julie Murdock, an employee signed. And these guys get paid to do testing!

1C Make ALL HIGH SCHOOL KIDS pee in a jar. This is the logical next step and it is surely imminent.

1D Make ALL KIDS IN AMERICA who turn 16 pay those who run the drug testing industry a fee as a rite of passage to get their driver's permit. In 1988 Melvin Sembler recommended a novel solution to the US drug problem. "Test every 16-year-old for drugs before we issue a drivers license," he declared then.[1] This is coming.

1E Make ALL AMERICANS UNDER 40 be drug tested. Sembler's drug testing expert Robert DuPont once wrote the article Never trust anybody under 40 [22]. This is coming.

Initiative 2 Kill the medical marijuana initiative

2A Kill medical marijuana initiatives in the states. In November 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215 which permitted Californians to use marijuana for medical purposes. The federal government fought the initiative and took the case to the US Supreme Court which ruled for the federal government. Attorney David Evans of The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs and Dr. Eric Voth, Chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, co-authored an Amicus Curiae brief in support of the US government's effort to remove the proposition.

Both Evans and Voth are tied to DFAF. Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF, is a cofounder of Evans' The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs and Voth's Institute on Global Drug Policy [18] is a subsidiary of DFAF. Today David Evans is also a member of the Institute on Global Drug Policy.

In 1998 Betty Sembler representing her SOS™ group worked with Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles' cabinet to stop a medical marijuana initiative there. Time Moore, chief of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, worked with her. He is now on Straight's (DFAF's) advisory Board. link

2B Kill national initiatives to support medical marijuana (Smoke N Mirrors). In 2002 Angel McClary Raich and others sued US Attorney General John Ashcroft for the right to use medically prescribed marijuana to treat various illnesses. By 2004 the matter had worked its way up to the US Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Raich, et. al. A diversified group of professionals wrote the Amicus Curiae Brief shown below to support the government's position.

Just look at all those impressive professional organizations agreeing with government to disallow the use of medical marijuana! Take a closer look at the endorsers:

  • The Drug Free America Foundation (formerly Straight, Inc.)
  • The Drug Free Schools Coalition. David Evans is executive director of the this coalition along with the likes of Colleen Wienhoff, former Vice Chairman of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). She gets paid to do drug testing. Evans is also with the The Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs, an organization co-founded by Calvina Fay, Executive Director of DFAF.
  • Save Our Society From Drugs [19] was founded by Betty Sembler.
  • The International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse [20] is another subsidiary of DFAF. Father Cassian Newton is one member of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse. Back when he was known as Reverend Doctor Virgil Miller Newton, Father Cassian had been the national clinical director for Straight, Inc. He left on the heels of criminal investigations and law suits--one culminating in a $721,000 jury verdict in 1990--a suit in which Dr. Newton had been accused of throwing Karen Norton against a wall. After Straight Newton setup his own chain of abusive teen rehabs. After CBS' West 57th St. exposed him; county prosecutors raided his program; four counselors were convicted for assault; he settled with federal prosecutors for $45,000 in return for not being prosecuted for 254 counts of insurance fraud; and after he and his team settled with two clients for $11.5 million for abuses sustained, Dr. Newton, now Father Cassian, returned to Florida and rejoined Drug Free America Foundation! Read The Miller Newton Story. [Donald Ian Macdonald, MD, Straight's former national research director, and Robert L. DuPont, Jr., MD, a former paid Straight consultant, are also members of ISMFDA.]
  • The Institute on Global Drug Policy is, as we saw above, a subsidiary of DFAF.
  • Students Taking Action Not Drugs [21] is also an arm of DFAF.

The brief is clearly fronted by America's two foremost, self-proclaimed experts on drug policy: Ambassador Melvin Sembler and his wife Betty Sembler through their Drug Free America Foundation (Straight).

In 1999 DFAF issued this press release against medical marijuana. Link

On Feb. 12, 1999 Betty Sembler and Shirely Coletti were members of Jeb Bush's Florida Statewide Drug Control Summit

In March 2001 Betty Sembler testified before a House Committee drilling Rob Kampia on medical marijuana.

In Arizona DFAF fought legalization issues and Maricopa County prosecutor Rick Romely joined DFAF's Advisory Board.

On July 6, 2004 Betty Sembler wrote a letter to Congress in opposition to the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, a law that would allow states who allow the use of medical marijuana to not enforce federal law declaring the use of medical marijuana illegal. In her letter, which was published in the Congressional proceedings, she declares herself to be a drug policy expert and she states: They [groups hoping to profit from drug legalization] don't care about civil liberties or our nation's children. . . They only care about getting rich . . .

Initiative 3. Kill the move for legalization and for treatment in lieu of prison for possession of small amounts of marijuana

In Ohio. Betty worked with Hope Taft, governor of Ohio. Read The Governor’s Sub-rosa Plot to Subvert an Election in Ohio

In Michigan. On May 3rd and 4th, 2000 the DEA and DFAF cosponsored an anti-legalization conference in Lansing, Michigan titled, "Training the Trainers: Putting the Brakes on the Drug Legalization Movement."

The Semblers' and DFAF's International Drug Control Strategy
The DFAF works hand-in-hand with the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA) and Global Drug Prevention Network (GDPN) for worldwide demand reduction. Stephanie Haynes (who represented Betty Sembler's S.O.S.™ when she signed the Amicus brief for Pottawatomie County) is now director of DPNA. Take a look at some DFAF / DPNA sponsorships:

  • On April 26-29, 2001 DFAF and DPNA sponsored a conference in Saint Petersburg, Florida (the Semblers' hometown) called the International Task Force Development on Strategic Policy.[23]
  • DFAF cosponsored the Vancouver conference [24] on May 1-3, 2002.
  • On May 24, 2002 Mel Sembler hosted an international drug policy summit with the Italians [25] at his ambassador's villa in Rome.
  • Last year DFAF and DPNA sponsored a series of conferences [26] in South America.
    • September 12-14, 2002, Sound Drug Policies, Montevideo, Uruguay
    • September 20-21, 2002, Preventive Drug Education, Medellín, Colombia
    • September 26-27, 2002, Drug Prevention Education, Mexico City, Mexico
    • October 24-25, 2002, NGO Coalition Building, Santiago de Chile, Chile
    • October 28-30, 2002, Sound Drug Policies, Lima – Peru
    • November 13-14, 2002, Sound Drug Policies, Buenos Aires – Argentina

International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy. This is a task force under the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Office of White House Drug Czar John Walters). DFAF's Calvina Fay is its principal contact. The task force met in Brussels from Feb. - Mar., 2005 to draft a strategy to fight the war on harm reduction. Other members include Betty Sembler and Eric Voth. Former White House Drug Czar was Robert DuPont is a former paid consultant for Straight and today is on DFAF's Advisory Board. Former Drug Czar Donald Ian Macdonald is the former national research director for Straigth, Inc. A Straight memo states that former Drug Czar Bob Martinez would work to get Straight a license. Ronald Reagan's Drug Czar Carlton Turner who accompanied Nancy Reagan on her first visit to Straight endorses the front page of Father Newton's book Not My Kid with these words: "Not My Kid should be required reading for any parent concerned about their children's future." Father Newton was Straight's former national clinical director who was personally responsible for abusing children. Turner spoke at a Straight fund raising dinner in May 1982.. link1 link2

For additional information on Mel and Betty's international drug policy read Ambassador Melvin Sembler and wife Betty: supporters of juvenile rehab abuses and self-proclaimed international drug policy experts.


What are the Semblers really after?

Used to be when armies crawled on their bellies. When soldiers were placed on KP, peeled their own potatoes and had mess sergeants. But that was before high presidential contributors convinced the president they could do it cheaper. People like Vice President Dick Cheney who used to run Halliburton [27] which, among other lucrative DOD contracts, feeds all those soldiers in Iraq. Dick Cheney's good friend Mel Sembler is on Jeb Bush's Council of 100 [28]. That's the shadow government in Florida that recommended (and is now helping to implement) to Jeb Bush the privatization of state government jobs. Mel Sembler has many management companies. Will he bid on the management of these jobs newly turned over to the private sector? Mel Sembler wants every 16 year-old in America drug tested. His cronies would share in the profit made by administering the tests. And what is Sembler's plan if a kid shows up positive? If it turns out the kid is just a user will he be court ordered to a Sembler-based therapeutic community for treatment? The Sembler's may have lost their Straight treatment program, but a good case can be made that another Pinellas County, Florida drug rehabilitation program, Operation PAR [29], has become the drug treatment arm of DFAF. [There have been no allegations of abuse at PAR.] But if a kid shows positive and the ensuing investigation finds that he is a drug pusher would the kid be sent to prison? And if so, a private prison?

In September 1989 George H.W. Bush announced a whopping $7.9 billion anti-drug strategy that calls for tougher punishment for users and for more federal spending on law enforcement, prison construction, treatment and prevention.[30] How much of that budget and future budgets did the Semblers get for treatment and prevention? The conspiracy theorist amongst us are alarmed about Wackenhut, a big operator of private prisons, because it was founded by a former FBI agent and because it hires former FBI and CIA agents. George Bush directed the CIA and his friend Mel Sembler builds shopping centers. How hard would it be for Sembler Company to retool and construct private prisons.

According to former White House Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, American drug policy has led to the creation of a vast "drug gulag" of federal and state prisons. Due to American drug policy the prison population has quadrupled since 1980 making the incarceration rate in America the highest among western democracies. According to Human Rights Watch[31], "Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks." But "nationwide, black men are sent to state prison on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men." Mel Sembler's Straight program catered to white children [32] because their parents were better able to pay Straight's bill.

While almost all of us agree that it is wrong to abuse a child under any circumstance, many of us feel it is morally reprehensible for one man to make money off the imprisonment of another man. Eighteen years ago there were just five privately-owned prisons in America maintaining just 2,000 prisoners. Ten years later there were almost 20 private companies, operating 100 prisons, housing 62,000 prisoners. Today Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) alone houses 62,000 inmates! CCA stocks are sold on the NYSE [CXW]. Their value leaped from $8 a share in 1992 to $30 in 1995. CCA, Wackenhut and Esmor are the three top purveyors of private prisons in this country. Eight years ago Forbes rated Wackenhut as one of the top 200 small businesses in the land. (Read: Sodexho Marriott Stops "No More Prisons" Show at American University -- Event Was Planned to Highlight Company's Ties to Private Prison Industry.)

Most people think George Bush was Mel Sembler's first choice for president in 1992. He was not. Sembler backed the Republican governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander. CCA was founded in 1983 by two Nashville businessmen. Gov. Alexander's wife Honey invested $8,900 in CCA. In 1985 Lamar Alexander backed a $250 million contract to CCA to take over the operation of Tennessee's prison system. To avoid any conflict of interest, Honey Alexander traded her CCA stocks to a friend for 10,000 shares in South Life Corporation, a life insurance company. She sold her stocks in 1989 for a net gain of $133,000.00. In the end CCA's privatization effort failed and all but one of the affected prisons were returned to state control.[33], [34] Charles L. Overby, formerly special assistant for administration to Governor Lamar Alexander, is on the board of directors of CCA.[35] J. Mark Tipps, campaign manager for Lamar Alexander's presidential bid and deputy chief counsel for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's special investigation of campaign finance in 1997, is a lobbyist for CCA or Wackenhut as is Lewis Donelson of Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell who was also finance commissioner under former Gov. Lamar Alexander. In 1996 and 1998, private prison corporations contributed more than $284,000 to political party committees in Florida alone, four-fifths to the Republican Party. [36]

W.G. “Bill” Bankhead is the "tough love" Secretary for Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice. He has awarded several contracts to Ramsay Youth Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: RYOU), formerly Ramsay Health Care, Inc., to operate juvenile prisons in Florida. He is a member of the Advisory Board for DFAF. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) [37] has been granting Betty Sembler's Operation PAR $64,000 a year since 1999. Guy Tunnell, commissioner of FDLE, and James "Tim" Moore, former commissioner of FDLE, are members of the Advisory Board for DFAF. In 1995 the Florida Attorney General's office granted Operation PAR $59,000. Charlie Crist, the present AG, has been a friend of Mel's son Brent since childhood. Operation PAR runs a pilot program to rehabilitate prostitutes which as been funded by the St. Petersburg Police Department. Op PAR board member Terry Hensley is the former executive director of DFAF. Before that he was chief of police for St. Petersburg. Operation PAR works with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. It appears that Betty Sembler had something to do with the creation of the St. Petersburg-based Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training organization that trains law enforcement officials nationwide in drug interdiction. She serves on MCTFT's Advisory Board with Pinellas County's sheriff Jim Coates and Guy Tunnell, commissioner of FDLE. Betty Sembler is Florida Governor Jeb Bush's former finance co-chairman. In 2000 Jeb Bush proposed to spend $16.4 million for the construction of more juvenile residential centers so that incarceration stays could be increased by five months. Jeb Bush is on the Advisory Board for DFAF. His wife Columba and his lieutenant governor, Toni Jennings, are also on DFAF's Advisory Board.

The big fear is that as Sembler helps perpetuate the phony War on Drugs, the parents of teenagers will be made to pay Sembler's cronies to be drug tested. Then if a kid shows positive but is found not to be a dealer he will be forced into a drug rehab program that might be run by the Semblers or their cronies. If it is determined that he is a dealer, he might be sent to a private prison conceivably built by and/or operated by the Semblers or, like CCA, one that is closely associated with one of Sembler's cronies.

Mel Sembler was lampooned by Gary Tradeau in the Doonesbury comic strip and received Florida's Sour Orange Award for buying his first ambassadorship. He was chastised in his hometown newspaper because some businessmen proposed to the chamber of commerce that they build a granite monument to him. In 2005 the Washington Post gave him its Narcissist Run Amok award for getting American taxpayers to buy and refurbish a mansion in Rome for $113 million and then name it after himself. Editorials in his local paper have mentioned the Sembler name in articles with the words foul odor and rotten in the title. He is quoted in the book 776 Even Stupider Things Ever Said, his degree in communications from Northwestern notwithstanding. He has made a mint building and managing shopping centers--his forte being in hiring former municipal or county commissioners to lobby his projects. He has used his wealth to buy into politics and to get fellow Republicans to endorse him and his Straight program.

Melvin and Betty Sembler are two very public figures who are major violators of human rights and civil liberties, and it is disheartening to watch this dynamic duo, so unqualified in law and drug policy, chip away at the Fourth Amendment. It is almost eerie how their goal and method is the complete antithesis of what another dynamic duo, Charlie Houston and his student Thurgood Marshall, did to the Fourteenth Amendment. Mel and Betty ran a drug program that targeted almost exclusively white kids and denied those kids education; Houston and Marshall worked to get equal education for black kids. Houston and Marshall gradually chipped away at the the Fourteenth Amendment (due process and equal protection) and Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal) by introducing a series of law suits to give blacks more and more rights to an education, culminating on May 17, 1954 when the US Supreme Court agreed with them in Brown vs. the Board of Education that "equal but separate" schools for blacks are not "equal" to schools for whites.

It's worth noting that through the years two of Mel and Betty's biggest critics have been the old Old St. Petersburg Times when it was run by Eugene Patterson. Patterson won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials opposing racism and was vice chairman of the US Civil Rights Commission from 1964-68. Another critic is Arnold Trebach, Professor Emeritus of Law and Social Justice at American University. Professor Trebach was chief of the US Justice Department's Civil Rights Division when it was trying to implement integration in the south after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Mel and Betty are gradually chipping away at the Fourth Amendment in Veronia School District, Pottawatomie County, and the rest so that drug testers can be paid to look inside our bodies without probable cause just because the technology now exists to do that. And to think, this First Couple of American Drug Policy got on their anti-drug high horse because of a union they made on May 17, 1953 (the day they got married, exactly one year to the day before Brown vs. the Board of Education was decided) which produced a son who got involved in the illegal drug scene.[38]


2. newswire/2005/Jan/3206.7041015625.dat
10. hi.wmv
12. newswire/2005/Feb/10602.447265625.dat
17. The St. Petersburg Times, 7-31-88, p. 8D.
22. a. DuPont, R.L. (1989c). Never trust anyone under 40: What employers should know about drugs in the workplace. Policy Review, Spring 1989, 52-57 b.
30. 28f. St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 6, 1989
32. frontpageextension.htm#whitecharity
33. Politics for Profit: The Rich Rise of Lamar Alexander by Doug Ireland in The Nation for April 17, 1995
34. a.
36. Private Prisons, Politics & Profits By Edwin Bender July 1, 2000
33. 28b. America's Private Gulag by Ken Silverstein


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