It is not unusual for politicians to bestow honorary awards upon cult founders. In 2000 Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared August 8 Betty Sembler Day in all of Florida for her work at Straight, Inc., one of the most destructive juvenile drug rehabilitation programs ever. Over 40 former clients have committed suicide. Betty (wife of Ambassador Mel Sembler) was Jeb Bush's finance co-chairman and in return he joined the advisory board of Straight under its current name Drug Free America Foundation. (He afffectionally calls Betty Ms. Ambassadorable.)
Yesterday, January 5, 2009, Florida Governor Charlie Crist inducted Betty into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her work at Straight, Inc. and for her service on the board of the Florida Governor’s Mansion Foundation. Betty's son Brent, who is vice chairman of the Sembler Company, was Finance Co-Chairman for the campaign of state Senator Charlie Crist. He also served on committees for the election of Charlie Crist for Florida Education Commissioner, for Crist's bid for Florida’s Attorney General and for Crist's gubernatorial campaign. It was son Brent who inspired Mel and Betty to found Straight when, as a teenager, they placed him in The Seed (Straight's predecessor) which was accussed by the US Senate of brainwashing kids. There is even speculation that Charlie Crist was in The Seed with Brent.
Another inductee was Louise Courtelis, wife of former Straight board member-at-large Alec. P. Courtlelis. In all, Crist selected three women for induction, the third was Florida state senator Gwen Margolis. It is not known whether she is the mother of Joy Margolis, the former public information officer for Straight, Inc.
Crist made his selection from a list of 10 submitted to him by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Brent Sembler's wife Debbie is a former board member of the commission. Mel, Betty, Brent and Debbie, indeed all of the Semblers, have always given handsomely to the election campaigns of prominent Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. It's like family patriarch Mel Sembler says, "You pay a little more, you get a little more."