This Thursday, a who's who of Florida big shots will hold a private, $1,000-a-head fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott's reelection effort, led by a host committee that includes Mel Sembler, the founder of a notorious substance abuse rehab program that folded after allegations of extreme abuse were lodged against several of its facilities.
The program, Straight Inc., was founded in 1976 by Sembler, a
developer, and his wife, Betty. In the 17 years that it operated drug
treatment centers, Straight Inc. was plagued by news reports and at
least one civil suit claiming that its staff kidnapped its adult
patients and mentally, physically, and sexually abused their underage
charges. Two state investigations substantiated reports of abuse.
Straight Inc. officials consistently denied these allegations. Sembler's biography on the Sembler Company website hails Straight Inc.
as having "successfully graduated more than 12,000 young people
nationwide from its remarkable program." Sembler, it adds, "is
nationally recognized as an activist in the anti-drug campaign." Sembler
could not be reached for comment.