Monday, December 05, 2005

Founder of Teen Torture Center Movement, Ambassador De Sade Mel Sembler to Lead Legal Fund Drive for Pedophilic Literary Artist, I. "Scooter" Libby

Southpinellas: Sembler leading defense fund drive for LibbyST. PETERSBURG - Local developer Mel Sembler, a former U.S. ambassador, is taking a leading role in raising millions for the legal defense fund of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last month on perjury and obstruction charges in connection with the disclosure of a covert CIA agent's name.

The fund, which was formed several weeks ago, has received assistance from friends, colleagues and former government officials, according to former Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock, who is helping Libby. That group includes former United Nations Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick.

Other contributors include investor Howard Leach, lobbyist Wayne Berman, both of whom help raise money for President Bush's campaigns; Richard Carlson, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 1992-1997; former presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Jack Kemp; and former Sens. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Alan Simpson of Wyoming.

Ex-CIA director James Woolsey also is helping, as are magazine publisher Philip Merrill, a former president and ex-chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and Mideast historian Bernard Lewis.

Sembler, who was called the chairman of the defense fund drive in at least one report, did not return a phone message or a message left at his Treasure Island home Thursday asking for comment.

Sembler is chairman of the board and founder of the Sembler Co., which owns and operates Baywalk, the downtown shopping and entertainment center. The company is also redeveloping Crossroads Shopping Center at Tyrone Boulevard and 66th Street N.

The company is developing its first residential project on Beach Drive NE with developer Jimmy Aviram. It is also slated to buy land in the unincorporated Lealman area for townhomes and has asked for rezoning of industrial land on Park Street in Seminole to build a small shopping center.

Sembler, a longtime Republican fundraiser, has helped candidates at all levels, from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker up to both President Bushes.

From 1997-2000, he was the Republican National Committee finance chairman. He served as ambassador to Australia and Nauru from 1989 to 1993, and most recently as ambassador to Italy.

Information from Times files was used in this report.

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