The political world is aflutter with reports that GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lied about key elements of his 1980 divorce. But we can show that Gingrich is a paragon of matrimonial virtue compared to a Wall Street titan who has left his ex wife and two daughters on food stamps in Alabama.
Newt Gingrich might be a scuzzbucket in the spouse department, but he's got a ways to go if he's going to catch Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities. Rollins' company completed a $380-million Wall Street IPO late last year, based on its projected strength as a developer of student housing near universities across the country.
Investors probably were attracted by the fact that Rollins belongs to one of America's wealthiest families, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control and other profitable enterprises. Court records show that Rollins owns multiple private jet craft and has engaged in business ventures with his cousin, R. Randall Rollins of Atlanta. Randall Rollins is chairman of Rollins Inc., the parent company for Orkin, and his stock worth in 2005 was estimated at a cool $763.8 million. Gary Rollins, Randall's younger brother and president of Rollins Inc., had a 2005 stock worth of $791 million.
It seems a safe bet that the overall wealth for both Randall and Gary Rollins has easily topped the $1 billion mark by now. And that gives us some idea of the financial waters in which Ted Rollins swims.
So why are Sherry Carroll Rollins (Ted's ex wife) and their daughters (Sarah and Emma) on food stamps in Birmingham, where they now live? The answer seems to be this: Ted Rollins came up with schemes in his divorce case that Newt Gingrich could not even imagine.
To be sure, Gingrich did not behave honorably in his first divorce. And public records show that he has been lying about what transpired in that case. Reports CNN:
Newt Gingrich claims that it was his first wife, not Gingrich himself, who wanted their divorce in 1980, but court documents obtained by CNN appear to show otherwise.
The Republican presidential candidate, now in his third marriage, has been peppered with attacks and questions about his divorce from Jackie Gingrich for the past three decades.
Questions about his past--and what that past tells voters about his personal behavior--have re-emerged as he has returned to the political scene 13 years after he resigned as speaker of the House.
A new defense that has arisen as Gingrich entered the presidential race this year is the insistence that she, not he, wanted the divorce.
How should the Gingrich campaign spin these latest revelations, which threaten to sink his bid for the White House? I have a suggestion: Shower the press with details about the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case--it has connections to Gingrich's home state of Georgia; that could be the hook. Newt will look like George Bailey, the famed Jimmy Stewart character from It's A Wonderful Life, compared to Ted Rollins.
* Jurisdiction--By all accounts that we've seen, the Gingrich divorce case was filed in the proper jurisdiction and never left there. In Rollins v. Rollins, Sherry Rollins filed for divorce in Greenville, S.C.--where the family lived--and the case was litigated there for roughly three years. Infidelity was one of the grounds cited in Ms. Rollins' divorce complaint. When judges in Greenville issued several unfavorable rulings for Ted Rollins, the case mysteriously got shifted to Alabama, contrary to volumes of law saying that can't happen.
Marital Sleaze Scorecard: Ted Rollins 1, Newt Gingrich 0
* Housing--Support for a wife and two daughters was an issue during the pendency of the Gingrich case. Jackie Gingrich stated in a court filing that Newt failed to provide sufficient funds for food and utilities. That's bad, but it's nothing compared to Ted Rollins' actions. A South Carolina judge ordered Ted to make sure that Sherry Rollins and the children had "undisturbed possession" of the marital home while the divorce case was pending. Did Ted Rollins follow that order? Nope. A bank kicked Sherry Rollins and the children out of the house when the mortgage went unpaid, and that's when they fled to Alabama, where Sherry Rollins had family.
Marital Sleaze Scorecard: Ted Rollins 2, Newt Gingrich 0
* Deadbeat Dad--Documents obtained by CNN indicate that Jackie Gingrich and her children struggled to make ends meet during the 1980 divorce case. But records also show that Newt Gingrich made a relatively modest salary then, so there was not a lot to go around. Ted Rollins, on the other hand, owns multiple private planes and has been involved in a number of apparently successful business ventures. Public records, and interviews with Sherry Rollins, show that Ted Rollins failed to make court-ordered support payments for some 33 months.
Marital Sleaze Scorecard: Ted Rollins 3, Newt Gingrich 0
* Court Orders--Documents obtained by CNN show that Newt Gingrich failed to abide by provisions of his final divorce judgment. That's bad, but Ted Rollins made a habit of violating court orders while his divorce case was ongoing. Rollins violated orders regarding shelter, discovery, legal expenses, child support, alimony . . . well, you get the idea.
Marital Sleaze Scorecard: Ted Rollins 4, Newt Gingrich 0
* Child-Support Forms--More information on the Gingrich divorce case is likely to surface in the coming days, but for now, we see no sign that Newt Gingrich provided false information in a sworn document. Ted Rollins, on the other hand, signed an Alabama child-support document (called a CS-41), stating that he made roughly $50,000 a year--and his only source of income was from a mortgage company in Brentwood, Tennessee. A guy who flies around in private jets and has family ties to multiple billionaires makes 50 grand a year? Does anyone in his right mind think that document, signed under oath, was truthful and accurate?
Marital Sleaze Scorecard: Ted Rollins 5, Newt Gingrich 0
As you can see, Ted Rollins is pitching a shutout on our Official Marital Sleaze Scoreboard (brought to you by Hooters). Gingrich is way behind and appears to have little chance of catching up.
Our advice to the Newster: Figure out a way to compare yourself to Ted Rollins. Your "family values" will be glowing by comparison. It just might save your presidential campaign.