Measure 80's opposition, Protect Our Society, evades election laws and
By Jennifer Alexander for Examiner.com
For Oregonians who primarily get their news from the mainstream media, it
may appear that there is a lot of opposition to Measure 80. Multiple
editorials rehash the same talking points, almost without fail indicating
that our current policies have failed, but yet continue to denounce Measure
80 and call for a "No" vote on the November ballot. Ironically, the
opposition all seems to point back to a single, well-funded source of
anti-marijuana propaganda. And while it may not be surprising to many
long-time advocates for marijuana reform, much of the financing for the
opposition traces back to federal grants paid for by our tax dollars!
You see, after anti-marijuana billboards were removed from the Portland metro area, many Oregonians are left wondering, 'Who was behind those billboards?'
The seven billboards cost $875 each (totaling $6125) and the only registered
opposition to Measure 80 is the "Sheriffs of Oregon" who filed a certificate
that they would spend no more than $3000, which doesn't require itemized
reporting if they remain under that amount. Despite laws that require any
individual political expenditures exceeding $750 to be reported to the
Secretary of State, so far, no one has reported the spending for the
billboards (or any other opposition expenses). The Secretary of State's
Office confirmed that the billboards are political expenditures and should
have been reported.
>> see Video: Shirley Morgan interview denouncing Oregon's medical marijuana program <<
The most likely backer for the billboards seems to be a single person,
Shirley Morgan, who claims to be "Founder of Oregonians Against the
Legalization of Marijuana" with the assistance of out-of-state beneficiaries
and pushers of court-mandated "treatment" for marijuana arrestees that would
end with legal marijuana under Measure 80. However, this 'group' appears to
be a name only - and it only makes appearances when there is a ballot
measure before Oregonians, such as Measure 80. But this isn't the only
'group' Morgan uses to push her anti-marijuana agenda; she is the "founder"
of many 'groups.' Her list of 'groups' also includes the "Mount Hood
Coalition Against Drug Crime (MHCADC)" (and various other incarnations of
the same group, such as the Molalla Coalition Against Drug Crime, who
previously paid for a billboard campaign quite similar to the current
one)and, it would appear, "Protect Our Society."
None of the groups is
registered as a valid nonprofit or political action committee within Oregon,
despite the fact that the MHCADC received federal grants from "Weed n Seed"
funding through 2010. In fact, the MHCADC does not appear to have ever
registered in Oregon.
After noticing the billboards, advocates for Measure 80 began a phone
campaign to both the owner of the signs, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the
group that purchased the domain for the website, Save Our Society From Drugs
(SOS). Dan Dhruva, the spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor, identified
the purchaser of the billboard advertisements as the "Mount Hood Coalition
Against Drug Crime" (MHCADC) with a Florida contact number for Save Our
Society (SOS). SOS is a Florida-based anti-marijuana organization founded by
Mel and Betty Sembler, best known for Straight Inc., their controversial
drug treatment centers for adolescents that were forced to close in the
early 1990's after multiple state investigations and lawsuits alleging abuse
and cruelty. The Semblers themselves proudly describe Straight Inc. as a
success, specifically that Straight Inc. "successfully treated more than
12,000" adolescents. The Semblers are the founders of both SOS and Drug Free
America Foundation (DFAF).
DFAF is another 'group' with many different names - at least six different
"divisions" are directly attributed to DFAF on their own webpage, and they
often use these divisions to provide the illusion of multiple credible
sources in various white papers. They work closely with the federal
government, including the ONDCP as well as addiction treatment services
throughout the country, and receive significant grant funding (According to
Guidestar, in 2010, nearly 95% of their $576,575 in revenue was obtained
through grants, and $469,309 was paid out in salaries and other
compensations!) Although they operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supposedly
promoting "sound drug policy and education" through "videos and public
service announcements", they are known for intentionally timing PSA's to
have an influence on political bills and measures.
SOS board members nearly mirror the board of DFAF and both groups operate
out of the same office. SOS opposes legalization and strongly supports "drug
courts" as the solution to substance abuse throughout the country, a model
surprisingly similar to the failed rehabilitation centers previously owned
by the Semblers - but now, with the force of the law behind the services -
preventing any repeat of previous lawsuits for unlawful imprisonment by
patients who were held against their will. On their website, they explain
how drug courts will "keep defendants in treatment long enough for it to
Drug Courts combine drug treatment with the structure of the courtroom.
Working as a team, the judge, probation officers, attorneys, and treatment
providers cooperate to keep defendants in treatment long enough for it to
work. Defendants are supervised closely, routinely drug tested, and held
accountable by the judge for meeting their obligations to the court,
society, themselves, and their families.
The purchaser of the billboards did not provide the Oregon number for
MHCADC, which goes unanswered when called, and that website hasn't had any
new posts in over a year. And, although the phone number listed for MHCADC
responds with a message that claims it is the "Clackamas County Sheriff's
Office working with Coalition for Drug Crime", an inquiry to Officer McClurg
at the official number for the Clackamas County Sheriff's confirmed that
they were "no longer involved" with MHCADC and the number was not a valid
number for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. McClurg was unable to
answer when the relationship was severed or why. In a phone interview, Adam
Phillips, the Public Information Officer for Clackamas County Sheriff's
Office, was also not able to provide any additional information about the
group or why the relationship was severed.
Other law enforcement officials also seem to be distancing themselves from
the group; although Sheriff John Trumbo is quite outspoken against Measure
80 and the designated spokesperson for the Sheriffs of Oregon's opposition
campaign against Measure 80, he reportedly told the Oregonian that he
doesn't know anyone involved with Protect Our Society. Protect Our Society
was a political action committee (PAC) that was created (and discontinued)
about three years ago for an attempted 2010 citizens' initiative to repeal
the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. According to Election records, the
discontinued PAC listed Sheriff John Trumbo, Sheriff Tom Bergin and Officer
William Jennings as the three Co-Chief Petitioners of the initiative;
Shirley Morgan was the treasurer for the discontinued PAC. Although the
initiative failed to gather any signatures or funding, the website has
continued to be maintained - only recently adding the page lobbying against
marijuana legalization and adding the image from the billboards after they
were taken down (and even claiming that she is a real person of only
12-years old!) It is hard to reconcile the fact that Trumbo, a Co-Chief
Petitioner for the Protect Our Society initiative, "doesn't know anyone
involved with Protect Our Society." In a phone interview, Trumbo discounted
the connection, claiming that the initiative was drafted by Kevin Mannix
(the 2008 version, including multiple provisions related to his "Anti-Crime
Alliance" work, was drafted by Mannix) and that the backers of the 2010
effort (which is only a small portion of what was drafted in 2008) needed
names for Co-Chief Petitioners, which he agreed to. But the initiative
stalled, and he promptly forgot about it; he claims he cannot recall who
asked him to be a Co-Chief Petitioner or who was involved in the effort.
Both the websites for Protect Our Society and MHCADC are registered by
Calvina Fay at SOS. When advocates called SOS, spokespersons there also
distanced themselves from the 'group', claiming that they simply provide the
URL for various anti-drug grassroots groups around the country and they do
not maintain the website or have any direct connections with the 'group'. In
fact, Amy with SOS claimed that Protect Our Society was a political PAC that
"disbanded over three years ago" and that they no longer existed, even
though the domain registration was updated on August 31, 2012, according to
a WHOIS search. And the Director of Communications at SOS, Lana Beck,
claimed they had no contact information for ProtectOurSociety.org other than
a generic "contact form" that recently appeared on the website. (Inquiries I
sent via the "contact form" have not been responded to).
With everyone distancing themselves from their previous connections with
Protect Our Society, the 'group' - if it even exists - continues to hide in
the shadows. So who is really behind the misleading and offensive campaign
and why are they hiding if their motive is really to "protect our society"?
Are all these front groups intended to hide the fact that there is little,
if any, legitimate opposition to legal marijuana in Oregon? It appears that
this group, along with Morgan's other 'groups', doesn't even have any
support within the state of Oregon; according to the webpage listing
"supporters" for Protect Our Society, it includes only nine different
"divisions" of the Florida-based Drug Free America Foundation - none of
which is in Oregon! Is this opposition solely to ensure the nonstop stream
of court-mandated "marijuana addicts" that are largely average cannabis
users who are referred there by "drug courts" for minor marijuana offenses?
Clearly, at least in Oregon, prohibitionists are the ones hiding in the
Now, more than ever, proponents for legal marijuana need to stand up and be
heard! There are thousands of supporters for ending the failed War on Drugs
in Oregon - and only a few opponents that refuse to be directly confronted
to defend their failed prohibition. We can no longer allow the voices of
these few to be louder than our own voices. We know that the War on Drugs
has failed: it is costing us millions of dollars each year, eroding personal
liberties, destroying the futures of millions of Americans and tearing
families apart. When confronted with the facts, the majority of Americans
agree that marijuana prohibition must end and be replaced with sensible
regulations that truly DO protect our society.
With little more than a week left until Oregonians will decide on this
important issue, we need your help in ensuring Oregonians understand the
truth about prohibition and the benefits of legalizing marijuana like
alcohol. Make a contribution to help raise awareness about Measure 80 today
Click > here < for the Source story, related links, comments and to post yours.
More on the Drug War Cartel
Posted by Jim Greig
Protect Our Society is the Oregon Chapter of Save Our Society (Robert
DuPont, Calvina Fay, Betty Sempler, etc). Shirley Morgan for sure, and
Sheriff Tom Bergin and Sheriff John Trumbo are all names that have been
openly associated with it in the past - not sure what role they have in
active management of the group.
The website has recently been updated to reflect marijuana legalization,
instead of the strict focus on the "scam" of medical marijuana they had
previously while promoting their "repeal medical marijuana and replace it
with tax-payer subsidized marinol" petition in 2010.
Also, NOTE: their last name is Sembler. Years back, it was called Save Our Society from Drugs.
The plot thickensy in recent years.
See "GOP Mogul Behind Drug Rehab 'Torture' Centers Is Bankrolling Opposition to Pot Legalization in Colorado", here
Marijuana legalization would harm kids, says Smart Colorado, a group
advertising stock images ( votenoon64.com) of children along with messages asking for voters
to reject Amendment 64, a ballot initiative this year to legalize and tax
Smart Colorado, led former Republican senate candidate Ken Buck and
a team of Republican lobbyists and campaign operatives, hopes to drive down the
popularity of Amendment 64 before Election Day. The supposedly
family-friendly group, however, relies heavily on funds from a pair of
controversial Republican fundraisers who once led a drug rehab center shut
down over wide-ranging child abuse scandals.
Save Our Society from Drugs, a Florida-based nonprofit founded by Mel and
Betty Sembler, has given Smart Colorado contributions totaling $151,497
through September, according to *The Nation*'s review of state finance
disclosures. That's 95 percent of the money raised by the group so far.
The Semblers have been waging a war on marijuana for decades.
Before they led Save Our Society from Drugs, and its sister nonprofit, the
Drug Free America Foundation, the Semblers were at the helm of STRAIGHT,
Inc., which operated drug abuse treatment centers, mostly for teenagers,
from 1976 through 1993.
Former clients of the rehab center
recount episodes of brutal beatings, rape and systematic psychological abuse.
At one facility in Yorba Linda, California, state investigators found
"STRAIGHT Inc. subjected children to "unusual punishment, infliction of pain,
humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse ... and
interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and
toileting." Samantha Monroe, who was placed into a STRAIGHT Inc clinic in
Tampa at age 13, says she was locked in a room, and forced to wear a
clothes stained with urine, feces and menstrual blood - a punishment her counselors called "humble
Richard Bradbury, a former STRAIGHT patient and
counselor-turned-whistleblower, told the *St. Petersburg Times* that
Monroe's experiences weren't unique. "It was pure child abuse," Bradbury told reporters. "Torture."
In 1988, Fred Collins, an 18-year-old college student, paid a visit to his brother, who was in treatment for drug abuse, at an Orlando STRAIGHT Inc. clinic. Counselors accused Collins of being high on marijuana because his eyes were red, and held him against his will for months. The abduction, strip-searches and other abuses ended when Collins managed to escape. He was one of many to win judgments against the chain of drug rehab clinics before it was forced to close after investigations and lawsuits began to mount in several states.
Though the STRAIGHT drug rehab clinic no longer exist, the Sembler network
of anti-drug nonprofits have proliferated, in part because of the family's
extensive political connections. Mel, who served as a major fundraiser for
George H.W., Jeb and George W. Bush, was
appointed > as
the Ambassador to Italy in 2001. Betty Sembler, awarded "honorary agent
status by the DEA," has led
commissions and task forces on the state and federal level.
Three years after STRAIGHT shut down
, the Semblers changed its name to the Drug Free America Foundation, headquartered in St. Petersburg,
The Drug Free America Foundation, a nonprofit that shares
resources, an office and staff with the Save Our Society group financing the Amendment
64 opposition in Colorado, has a contract with the federal government to
help small businesses develop their own drug-testing programs for
employees. In 2010, taxpayers forked over
$250,000 toa Sembler group to oversee a drug-free workplace program for the Small Business Administration. It also helps produce anti-marijuana literature and promotional campaigns.
Mel Sembler, who made his fortune in real estate, says his opposition to
marijuana use influenced his move to the GOP. He switched party affiliation in 1979, when he claims he found out "[President Jimmy] Carter was doing all this pot smoking and stuff in the White House."
Since then, he's been a proud Republican. Explaining his early
support for Mitt Romney (he's now a leader of Romney's Florida fundraising
Sembler says he accompanied then-Governor Romney to Israel during his first
official visit and trusts the candidate's business acumen. Viveca Novak, of
Sembler was spotted on a Romney bundler yacht during the Republican
convention last month.
Sembler hasn't renounced his sordid legacy with the STRAIGHT clinics. An
online biography of Mel Sember posted by his nonprofit proudly touts his
role in founding the scandal-plagued rehab centers. The biography
cheerfully claims, that during "its 17 years of existence, STRAIGHT
successfully graduated more than 12,000 young people nationwide from its
remarkable program." There is no mention of the child abuse scandals that
led to its downfall.
There's little time to worry about the past. He's waging two battles now:
one in Colorado, and another to evict a former Choom Gang
the White House.
Even More on the Semblers can be found >> here
<< if you've the stomach for it ...
Oregon Sheriff Lies About Involvement With Protect Our
by Sam Chapman * October
22, 2012 - for
( follow on Twitter @SeriouslySamuel )
Umatilla County Sheriff John Trumbo lied to The Oregonian last week when he said that he didn't know anyone affiliated with a group
called "Protect Our Society". Protect Our Society was a Political Action
Committee (PAC) that was created for Measure 32, a 2010 initiative which
sought to repeal the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA).*
According to Election records provided by the Oregon Secretary of State,
Trumbo was a Chief Petitioner for Protect Our Society which was
discontinued on April 10th, 2012.
So why did Trumbo lie to the Oregonian about his involvement with the group?
The PAC was technically discontinued after the petition failed to get any
signatures; however they are far from non-existent. Acting from the
shadows, Protect Our Society purchased a handful of billboards in the
Portland metro area depicting an emaciated adolescent girl who appears to
be hooked on meth.
Although the billboards were removed when Protect Our Society refused to
divulge contact information to allow those concerned to discover where the
money came from to buy the ads, their presence started to raise questions.
It's unclear why Trumbo is covering up his affiliation with Protect Our
Society, a group that appears to be purchasing ads to unlawfully oppose
Measure 80. Trumbo sits on the executive
the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, which posted an essay opposing
The essay, attributed to the Sheriff of Multnomah County Dan Staton and
Sheriff of Washington County Pat Garrett along with two others, bears the
same headline that appeared on the signs from Protect Our Society
("Marijuana What's good about it? Nothing").
These tactics are not new. Prohibitionists like Trumbo have been teaming up
and actively opposing progressive marijuana reform for years.
Oregonians for Law Reform has left multiple messages with Trumbo's office,
but he has yet to return our calls.
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to vote YES on Measure 80 to put an
end to adult marijuana prohibition in Oregon!
If you would like to get involved with the campaign there are a few things
you can do help.
#1- Make phone calls; go > here < to
urge Oregonians to vote yes on Measure 80.
All you have to do is sign in
through Facebook, Twitter, or via your email address and you can start
making calls immediately.
#2- Put a "Yes on 80, End Marijuana Prohibition" sign in the window of your
house, car, or wave it around town. Oregonians for Law
have 2,500 signs that we will be distributing throughout Oregon from now
until Nov. 6th.
Please email email@example.com to reserve your sign
#3- Make a donation here!
100% of all
contributions will be used to raise awareness and buy more ads in support
of Measure 80.
#4- Share this photo on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. I don't ask
many favors of my friends, but if you live in Oregon or know anyone who
does, PLEASE share this photo.
Studies have shown that when you share how
you vote and why, your friends who are undecided are more likely to vote
the same way.
Click > here < for the story and links.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SeriouslySamuel
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