|Ann Romney and Christine O'Donnell|
Even his harshest critics seem to acknowledge that Mitt Romney is a devout Mormon and a strong family man. So it's curious that the Romney presidential campaign would accept major financial support from a family that has spent years providing cover for a child abuser.
We are talking about the Rollins family, which long has supported GOP causes from its primary bases in Georgia and Delaware. The Atlanta prong of the Rollins clan, led by R. Randall and Gary Rollins, has made billions off Orkin Pest Control and its umbrella company, Rollins Inc. The Delaware branch is led by Michele Rollins, who heads Rollins Jamaica Ltd and its famed Rose Hall Development in Montego Bay.
This comes after a report Sunday in The Washington Post that the Romney campaign has powerful ties to the Marriott family, of hotel-chain fame. In fact, the ties are bound so tightly that campaign staffers pretty much are required to stay in Marriott facilities when on the road. And get this: The Marriotts also are tight with the Rollinses. Like the Romneys, the Marriotts don't seem to mind the ugliness in the Rollins family tree--as long as big bucks keep flowing.
Said ugliness is not a secret; it's a matter of public record if the Rollinses' wealthy friends care to look. And it comes from one of the most public figures in the Rollins clan, a man who makes substantial sums from a publicly traded company that builds student housing at taxpayer-funded universities around the country.
Ted Rollins, the CEO of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, has one foot planted in each of the family branches. As we have reported here in a series of posts about the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case in Shelby County, Alabama, Ted Rollins has a documented record as a child abuser. He was convicted for the brutal 1995 assault of his 16-year-old stepson in Franklin County, North Carolina. The beating was so severe that it left the child with a broken nose, multiple lacerations, and substantial blood loss that required treatment to prevent shock.
By definition, under North Carolina law, such an attack by an adult on a child under his care is child abuse. And the assault came roughly two years after North Carolina social-services personnel investigated Ted Rollins for possible sexual abuse of the same stepson, based on a complaint from an unknown citizen. Records from such investigations generally are kept under wraps, so the full results of the Rollins probe are unknown. But we know that a family maid was cleaning a closet and discovered roughly 100 towels, soiled with feces and other debris from apparent anal sex. We also know that Ted Rollins was known to keep curious items--a spatula, a bungee cord, neckties--in the vehicle that he used to drive his stepson to and from school.
Mitt Romney seems to be the rare Republican who does more than just talk about "family values," so you might think he would distance himself from the Rollins crowd. But you would be wrong. Remember that Marc J. Leder, the host of Romney's famed "47 Percent" fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, is known for hosting "debauched parties" that include "nude frolics" and swimming pools.
Despite his wholesome image, Romney has developed a habit of cozying up to sleaze--if campaign funds can be extracted. That's what happened with the Rollins family.
Back in July, Michele Rollins hosted a fundraiser at her Greenville, Delaware, home that featured Ann Romney as guest of honor. Also on hand was Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell, and the hostess was jazzed about the whole affair. From a report at delawareonline.com:
Michele Rollins, who hosted Mrs. Romney for a $1,000 per couple reception at her Greenville home, said her house was “so packed” with people coming and going.
“It was wonderful. Ann Romney was wonderful,” said Rollins, a prominent Republican here who failed in a 2010 Congressional primary. “We had a lot of people. I don’t know the number. It was very successful. There was just a lot of excitement around.”
Rollins said fewer people attended a later $10,000 per couple dinner in Greenville, also attended by Ann Romney, but said attendance was still “substantial.”
Attendance was down at the $10,000 per couple affair? Are Republicans having to watch their wallets in the Great Bush Recession? Golly, times are hard.
How is Michele Rollins tied to the Marriotts? Well, it started with her late husband, John W. Rollins Sr., who launched the family's enterprises in Jamaica. He developed an alliance with the Marriott chain, and Rose Hall now includes the Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort. Marriott now owns Ritz-Carlton, although relations with the Rollins family might be strained over a lawsuit based on allegations of mismanagement at the Jamaica facility. One report says the dispute involves roughly $145 million.
Where does Ted Rollins fit into the picture? He is one of John W. Rollins Sr.'s 10 children (by three wives), the last four with Michele Rollins. That means Michele Rollins is Ted Rollins' stepmother.
It's interesting that Michele Rollins happily gushed to the press about her fundraiser with Ann Romney. Ms. Rollins was decidedly less forthcoming about court documents showing she played an active role in ensuring that her Alabama grandchildren, Sarah and Emma Rollins of Birmingham, were cheated so badly in their mother's divorce from Ted Rollins that they wound up on food stamps.
We've sent multiple e-mails to Michele Rollins, seeking her responses to questions about these events in Alabama. She has yet to respond.
Does Mitt Romney look favorably on the Rollins version of "family values"? If so, voters should be deeply concerned.