Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Sembler OUT as US Ambassador to Italy- Italy, Italian Americans and Americans Deserve Better


Mel Sembler bought his "US Ambassador to Italy" in 2001, despite his inability to speak Italian, and going counter to a tendency of selecting Ambassadors of the Ethnicity of That Country, (See Below for Ireland for Example) and despite the long list of Qualified Italian Americans, and Bush ignoring the suggestion and pleas of all Major Italian American Organizations, and the displeasure of both "activist" and "grass roots" Italian Americans.

Sembler's term has seen the absence of "highlights" and a series of "lowlights".

1. STRAIGHT- While speaking with great pride of being a founder of
"Straight" a Teen Drug Rehabilitation nationwide program, the Program and
executives are immersed in innumerable "abuse" law suits, law enforcement
actions, and featured on the Montel Williams show.

2. MONUMENT- US taxpayers buy a $113 million mansion in Rome and name it
for himself! Making him the only sitting US ambassador in the history of
the US to have a building named for him on foreign soil!
3. DIPLOMATIC BUMBLE- There have been few necessities for diplomacy, and
finally when one rears its ugly head, he fumbles, and causes a crisis is
US-Italy relations regarding "Sgrena Incident".

4.SEMBLER RACIST?- Sembler, who has gotten a reputation among blacks for
being a racist,
and been picketed by " The Uhuru"

5. SEMBLER STUPID STATEMENTS- Given Award for Stupid Statements, and
Lampooned by Gary Tradeau in the Doonesbury comic strip.

6.SEMBLER PUMPED UP- Sembler "exposed" by extremely angry "Straight"
victim. Only mentioned because it was the subject of an article in the
Washington Post.

Further Information on these stories are below, including the Sembler Bio
by the US Embassy.

Does Italy deserve Better??!!! Absolutely!!
Italy and Italian Americans Deserve an Italian American of Unquestioned
And that Italian American MUST have shown a Serious Interest in Italian
American affairs!!!!

Is NIAF, OSIA, UNICO working on this Yet????

George A. Garrett (1950-51) Francis P. Matthews (1951-52) William Howard
Taft III (1953-57) Scott McLeod (1957-61) Edward G. Stockdale (1961-62)
Matthew H. McCloskey, Jr. (1962-64) Raymond R. Guest (1965-68) Leo J.
Sheridan (1968-69) John D. J. Moore (1969-75)
Walter J. P. Curley, Jr. (1975-77) William V. Shannon (1977-81) Peter H.
Dailey (1982-84) Robert F. Kane (1984-85) Margaret M. Heckler (1985-89)
Richard Anthony Moore (1989-92) William Henry Gerald FitzGerald (1992-93)
Jean Kennedy Smith (1993-98) Michael J. Sullivan (1998) Richard J. Egan
(2001) John Kenny (Ambassador 2004)

Teen Drug Rehabilitators or Teen Abusers?

In 1976 Mel and Betty Sembler, prominent Republicans and multi-millionaires
from Saint Petersburg, Florida, founded Straight, Inc. to treat teenagers
for drug addiction. For the next 17 years Straight operated the world's
biggest chain of juvenile rehabilitation programs with centers in major
metropolitan areas all over America. Straight made nearly $100 million as a
charity, but there is a dark side to Straight.

Straight is one of the most destructive drug rehabilitation programs the
world has ever known. It relied on traditional Chinese thought reform
technologies to strip a child down of his self esteem before trying to
build him up again in the Straight image. Food and sleep deprivation,
making kids sit in their own feces, urine and vomit, spitting in kids'
faces and not allowing them to wipe the spit off, forced or cajoled sexual
confessions open for common discussion, painful restraints--these are all
trademarks of Straight treatment. Many former students have committed
suicide subsequent to their confinement at Straight. As many as 50,000 kids
may have been held captive at Straight. These are the charges that ISAC
wants the UN to look into.

In January, The Montel Williams Show ran a segment about his destructive
Straight drug rehabilitation program. Within hours of that broadcast
Ambassador Sembler announced that he had told the President he wanted to
come home to spend time with his grandchildren and that he would be coming
home in the next few months as soon as the President finds a suitable
replacement. We take that to mean that Presidential aids saw the Montel
video segment along with 10's of millions of other Americans and President
Bush gave Sembler the ax, but told him he wait off a few months to make it
appear that Sembler was not being fired because he has a background in
child abuse. But then two weeks ago Sembler got exposed for buying a
monument to himself and was hanging on the ropes by a thread

Reverend Doctor Miller Newton, Straight's former national clinical
director, fled Florida in 1983 on the heels of civil suits and criminal
investigations to setup his own second-generation Straight outside New York
City called Kids of Bergen County that was closed in 2001, responding to
County prosecutor charges of "excessive use of force," strip searches and
solitary confinement, and after four of his counselors were convicted of
assault; after he and his treatment team paid out $11.5 million in
settlements for abusing clients; and after he settled with federal
prosecutors for $45,000 in return for not being prosecuted for 254 counts
of insurance fraud.

Oh, and Reverend Doctor Miller Newton, Mel and Betty's former clinical
director at Straight,
he has changed his name to Father Cassian and once again works for Mel and
Betty at one of their subsidiaries of Drug Free America Foundation
(formerly Straight Foundation, Inc.).

What did Sembler do that was SO Great???

Ambassador Melvin Sembler's scheme to get US taxpayers buy a $113 million
Palace in Rome and name it for himself! [Bought for $83 million, $30
million to refurbish]

In Italy, The Semblers live in a palace in Rome! Villa Taverna, their
walled castle in Rome noted for having the largest garden in the ancient
city. Mel and Betty call it their "Magic Kingdom." They gave George Bush
and the Republican Party so much money that he made Mel Sembler our
ambassador to Italy even though he doesn't speak Italian, the same way his
father made Joseph Zappala, our ambassador to Spain even though he spoke no

The first thing he did when he got to Italy was to set about procuring this
monument to his greatness in Rome. He has finally accomplished that mission
making him the only sitting US ambassador in the history of the United
States to have a building named for him on foreign soil!

Congress passed a bill saying the annex "shall hereafter be known and
designated as the 'Mel Sembler Building.' " Who did this? None other than
Sembler's pal, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who was then chairman of the
House Appropriations Committee. We know this from watching the stirring
video of the Feb. 22 dedication -- available on the embassy Web site.

"I spoke to President Bush just a few days ago," Young said, "and told him
that I was coming here to be with you and what we were going to do today."

Bush thought this unusual. "And he said," Young recalled, " 'We don't do
that, do we? We don't name buildings for ambassadors where they have
served.' And I said, 'Mr. President, I introduced the bill and you signed
it.' " (Don't blame Bush for not noticing one line tucked into the omnibus
appropriations bill.) Young and Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) flew
to Rome for the ribbon-cutting.

Young proudly gave Sembler a copy of the legislation, adding that the
historic move came about not "because of some bureaucratic decision but by
an act of Congress." Couldn't have happened any other way. The bureaucrats
would have known better.

And he presented Sembler with a large bronze plaque to be affixed to the
Mel Sembler Building.

But there was more. If you go, as you should, to the Web site to look at
the stunning photo display, you'll come to a gorgeous photo (shown above)
of the frescoed ceiling of the C.W. Bill Young Conference Center right
there in the Mel Sembler Building.(a US Embassy Annex).

[RAA: Rep. Young "slickers" Congress into "naming" a Palace in Rome for
Sembler, and Sembler
"names" the Conference Center in the Palace for Young. Ain't America Great?]


It boils down to this. What is happening today in the middle east is of
interest to this nation. For four years Melvin Sembler has enjoyed a life
of luxury at US taxpayer expense,... having bought his way in. And for four
years he has never done anything of note in that office...And so it came to
pass that just days after naming a monument to HIMSELF Ambassador Melvin
Sembler was finally called upon for the first (and only time in his
non-illustrious diplomatic career) to do just one thing: after "The
Calapari- Sgrena Incident" convince Prime Minister Berlusconi to
"symbolically" keep a handful of Italian troops in Iraq.

Any diplomat of the US foreign service school who had taken Diplomacy 101
would have immediately have tried to soothe the Italian prime minister, and
Italy by telling him there would be a joint Italian-American investigation
into the matter. After all that is what the United States did in the Cermis
case where a U.S. fighter jet accidentally severed the cables of a mountain
lift resulting in the deaths of 20 people. The decision for a joint inquiry
seemed to have helped assuage the resentment of the Italians then; it may
have helped this time.

But Sembler did not suggest even that until his third summons to
Berlusconi. Sembler was unable to sway Berlusconi and now the effort to
keep peace in Iraq is openly an Anglo-American affair. And with Tony Blair
catching increasing heat from his own people, it is possible for this to
become an openly American-only affair. You blew it Mel.

Uhuru protest Sembler supermarket deal in Midtown

Midtown is a minority section of St. Petersburg, Fl. There were race riots
there 10 years ago. Mayor Rick Baker (a DFAF Advisory Board member) has
made the revitalization of Midtown a top priority. So the city purchased a
piece of property in Midtown from fellow DFAF Advisory Board member and
president of the local NAACP Darryl Rouson and his partner for $1 M and
gave them a sweetheart deal to build a Sweetbay super market. DFAF founder
Mel Sembler, who has gotten a reputation among blacks for being a racist,
has teamed up with Rouson to build the store. The Uhuru (a black political
group not affiliated with the NAACP) protested the groundbreaking ceremony.


Ambassador Melvin Sembler, AO, SO, NRA, DFPB cited in 776 Even Stupider
Things Ever Said.
Mel Sembler (or his namesakes) has been lampooned by Gary Tradeau in the
Doonesbury comic strip, has received Florida's Sour Orange Award for buying
his first ambassadorship, has been mocked by the old St. Pete Times for
somebody's proposal to build a granite monument to him, has been discussed
in newspaper articles using the words foul odor and rotten in the title,
and has had his penis pump cited on web pages around the world and in La
Gaceta here at home. And now we learn he is quoted in the book 776 Even
Stupider Things Ever Said, his degree in communications from Northwestern

A Case of One Man's Trash, or Hitting Below the Belt?

Washington Post
By Richard Leiby
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A strange court case involving Melvin Sembler, the U.S. ambassador to Italy
and a major GOP fundraiser and buddy of the Bush family, is heating up in

Sembler is suing Richard R. Bradbury, who has spent years rummaging through
Sembler's garbage, picketing and raising a stink about Straight, a
controversial drug treatment program founded by Sembler and his wife,

Ambassador Melvin Sembler, left, and his wife call Richard Bradbury's
trash-can discovery "an invasion into the sanctity of . . . our bedroom."
The case focuses on a penile pump that Bradbury lifted from Sembler's
garbage, then posted on eBay last year for $300,000...

Bradbury, 38, calls himself an advocate for victims who, like him, say they
were harmed as adolescents by Straight's practices. According to news
reports, Straight closed in 1993, amid lawsuits and a Florida state audit
that found "a propensity for abuse or excessive force to be used."
Sembler's biography on the State Department's Web site says, "During its 17
years of existence, Straight successfully graduated more than 12,000 young
people nationwide from its remarkable program." Sembler and his wife remain
active in the Drug Free America Foundation...

The legal battle has been covered extensively on, a site
run by Wesley Fager, 58, of Oakton. "I was in the cult. My son was in it.
He was significantly harmed by it," says Fager, who unsuccessfully sued the
group in the early 1990s in Fairfax Circuit Court. "The story is not about
a man's penis pump -- it's about child abuse."

Bradbury wouldn't comment, but his attorney, Thomas McGowan, said, "I see
this as a First Amendment case. . . . There is no right of privacy in

U.S. Ambassador to Italy

Ambassador Mel Sembler was appointed by President Bush as Ambassador to
Italy on November 16, 2001.Sembler, was the former US Ambassador to
Australia and Nauru (1989- 1992)

Sembler was most recently the Chairman of the Board of The Sembler Company,
one of the nation's leading shopping center developers. In 1986-1987,
Sembler served as the international leader and spokesman for the shopping
center industry as President of the 40,000-member International Council of
Shopping Centers.

A supporter of George H.W. Bush since 1979, Sembler played a leadership
role in raising funds for the Bush for President campaign. He was Finance
Co-Chairman of The American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural, raising
the dollars needed for the nation's 41st inauguration of the President of
the United States. Sembler also served as Finance Chairman for the
Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2000. He also served as
Florida's National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee after
his election in 1994 until 2000.

Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Italy, Sembler was the Honorary
Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Florida Holocaust

Sembler is also renowned for his activism in the anti-drug movement. In
1976, Sembler and his wife Betty founded STRAIGHT, an adolescent drug
treatment program. During its 17 years of existence, STRAIGHT successfully
graduated more than 12,000 young people nationwide from its remarkable

Born in 1930 in St. Joseph, Missouri, Sembler is a 1952 graduate of
Northwestern University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree.


Company website

Official Portrait

Official Biography

Properties under development

The Sembler Family's Political Contributions

Info on Straight

Urban Profiling at Sembler's Properties
(Copy and paste URL's to your browser!)