Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is hosting a fundraising event on Thursday in which the host committee includes the founder of a substance abuse boot camp that closed because of charges of serious abuse, Mother Jones reported on Tuesday.
The fundraiser in question is Mel Sembler, who founded Straight Inc. in 1976. Over 17 years the Straight Inc. drug treatment facilities were repeatedly accused of abuse. As Mother Jones notes, there was at least one Straight Inc. staffer accused of kidnapping adult patients and abusing them in mental, physical, and sexual ways. There were two state investigations that backed up that charge.
Mother Jones reported in 2006 that “hundreds” of patients said they had been abused at Straight Inc. facilities. Samantha Monroe said she had been raped and starved and locked in a closet.
Monroe also said that after she escaped from the program Straight Inc. staff put her in a “timeout room” and “hog-tied her,” according to Mother Jones.
Straight Inc., officials said those accusations were not true.
The California Department of Social Services in 1990 ordered one of Straight Inc.’s facilities, in Yorba Linda to close after investigators confirmed allegations of abuse. A year later, state officials in Virginia took away the Straight Inc. facility’s license there, causing it to move to Maryland.
Thus far Sembler has donated $25,000 to the Florida governor’s re-election efforts.