You might say that Michele Rollins is the "unofficial queen of Jamaica." As the chair of Rollins Jamaica Ltd, the holding company for the island nation's famed Rose Hall Development, Michele Rollins is a prominent figure in the West Indies.
You might say that Michele Rollins is a major player in Republican Party politics. A close friend of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rollins ran as a Republican in 2010 for a U.S. House seat from Delaware. She lost in the primary but left her mark as a proud member of the GOP's "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus during a severe economic downturn.
You might also say that Michele Rollins is rich. Her personal financial disclosure with the Federal Election Commission reports a family fortune ranging from $92 to $350 million.
So why does Michele Rollins have grandchildren in Alabama who are on food stamps?
Michele Rollins is the widow of John W. Rollins Sr., who made mega bucks in pest control, truck leasing, outdoor advertising, and other enterprises. John W. Rollins was the father of Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities and the focus of our reporting about a troubling divorce case he launched in Alabama.
That means Michele Rollins is Ted Rollins' stepmother. And that means Michele Rollins is step-grandmother to Ted Rollins' two teen-aged daughters, who live in Birmingham with their mother, Sherry Carroll Rollins. And as we reported recently, Sherry Carroll Rollins and her daughters are on food stamps, largely because of an extraordinary divorce judgment Ted Rollins received in Shelby County, Alabama--even though jurisdiction already had been established in Greenville, South Carolina, and the case could not lawfully be heard in another court.
All of which leads to this stunning fact: Michele Rollins, who has been described in profiles as "one of the wealthiest women in the United States," has grandchildren on food stamps.
How could that happen? With the apparent help of his lawyer friends at the powerful Birmingham firm of Bradley Arant, Ted Rollins managed to get a divorce judgment that requires him to pay the whopping sum of $815 a month in child support (plus $500 a month in alimony). This for a man whose company completed a $380-million IPO last year on Wall Street, a guy who has the use of multiple private jets.
If you do the math, and check federal guidelines, you see that the $1,315 a month in support for three people qualifies for food stamps. That Ted Rollins, what a guy!
|Rose Hall Resort in Jamaica|
It's not like Michele Rollins isn't aware of the situation. In an e-mail dated September 20, 2011, I presented a series of questions about the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case, and its aftermath, to Ted and Michele Rollins. One of the questions involved the fact that members of their family tree in Alabama are on food stamps. I received no answers to my questions.
Should we be surprised? Probably not.
The Rollins clan has a history of underhanded dealings. John W. Rollins Sr. had 10 children, with three wives, and that wing of the family is based mostly in Delaware. John's older brother and business partner, O. Wayne Rollins, headed a wing of the family that is based mostly in Atlanta. That includes R. Randall Rollins and Gary Rollins, Wayne's sons who now head up Rollins Inc. That wing of the Rollins family is embroiled in several internecine legal disputes that have been the talk of Atlanta for roughly the past year.
As for Michele Rollins, she makes quite a show of leading efforts to assist underprivileged children in Jamaica. But upon closer examination, signs of hardheartedness are unmistakable. While running for Congress, Rollins said in a talk with constituents that she was against extending unemployment benefits:
"I know this is a bad market and a very bad time. But you just cannot keep paying people, cannot keep taxing us to pay people to do nothing, because they will continue to do nothing for a very long time."
Rollins later tried to back away from that in an interview with Greg Sargent, of The Washington Post:
In an interview with me, Rollins clarified that she was not by any means suggesting the unemployed were "lazy."
"I didn't mean that unemployment benefits discourage people from working," Rollins said. She added that she does support "continuation" of benefits, though she said it was also crucial to "find the money" to pay for it. She claimed that all she meant to say was that "jobs aren't out there."
But Rollins did tell her constituent that giving people benefits risks ensuring that people "will continue to do nothing."
Michele Rollins seems to be against federal benefits--except when they are headed in her direction. A Delaware political blog reports that Rollins took a bonus in 2010 from funds paid by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was designed to bail out financial institutions. Reports the Delaware Liberal blog:
Michele Rollins was elected to the Wilmington Trust Board of Directors in 2007. During the market collapse in 2008, Wilmington Trust, like many other financial institutions, received a $330 million bailout from TARP. Unlike many other financial institutions, Wilmington Trust has as of yet failed to pay that money back. Instead, it paid its top executives $31.5 million in bonuses, including to Michele Rollins. Indeed, she saw her compensation she received from her position on the Wilmington Trust Board quadruple AFTER Wilmington Trust took the TARP funds.
What about Michele Rollins' grandchildren in Alabama? She would not answer our questions about them. And public records indicate she might have played a role in helping to ensure that they and their mother would be cheated in Rollins v. Rollins.
Here is a neat summary of Michele Rollins apparent position on her grandchildren: Let 'em eat food stamps!