|Ted Rollins (right) at an event|
for the Horatio Alger Association
Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest Communities, is an active member in the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a non-profit organization that extols the virtues of perseverance and hard work. The association is named for the 19th century author of dime novels about "rags to riches" stories, of people who pulled themselves up from nothing to become successful.
Rollins' support of the association is ironic because he is anything but a Horatio Alger story. In fact, he is mostly a "riches to riches" story. Given what we know about his leading role in the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case here in Alabama, Ted Rollins also does not embody the kind of honesty and integrity that often is associated with Horatio Alger.
How do we know that Ted Rollins hardly fits the Horatio Alger mold? Well, public records related to investments from the Philadelphia-based Vanguard Group tell the story. In fact, those records remind us of an unforgettable quote from the late Ann Richards about George H. W. Bush:
"George was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."
Given the massive wealth of the Rollins family--the folks behind Orkin Pest Control and other profitable enterprises--Ted Rollins was born somewhere between third base and home plate. But he still touts the virtues of self-reliance--even though Rollins himself has relied mostly on his family connections to get ahead.
How do we know that? Well, the No. 1 investor in Campus Crest Communities is the Vanguard Group, the nation's largest mutual-fund company. Vanguard played a prominent role in helping Ted Rollins' company secure a $380-million IPO on Wall Street in late 2010.
We've already shown that Ted Rollins has a documented history as a child abuser. He was convicted for assaulting his 16-year-old stepson in 1995. And two years before that, he was the target of a social-services investigation for child sexual abuse of the same stepson, based on a citizen complaint.
Why would Vanguard financially support a CEO with so much ugliness in his background? Is it because Ted Rollins has demonstrated extraordinary abilities as a businessman? Well, given that he helped take American Textile Services, of Louisburg, North Carolina, into bankruptcy in the 1990s, that seems unlikely.
Nope, it appears that Ted Rollins "earned" the support of Vanguard's millions the old-fashioned way--by relying on his family's connections.
Does Vanguard Group support the various Rollins family businesses? Was it deeply invested in RollinsWorld, long before Ted Rollins and Campus Crest Communities came along? You might say that. Here is a brief summary:
Rollins Inc. (stock symbol ROL)
Vanguard is the No. 4 institutional investor (No. 6 overall) in Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., which is the umbrella company for Orkin Pest Control. According to rocketfinancial.com, Vanguard holds almost 3.5 million shares of ROL stock, with a value of almost $81 million.
RPC Inc. (RES)
RPC Inc. used to be known as Rollins Energy Services, hence the RES stock symbol, and encompasses a number of oil- and energy-related businesses. Vanguard is the No. 3 institutional investor (No. 5 overall) in RPC, with almost $3.5 million shares worth more than $41 million.
Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment (DDE)
This Delaware-based firm is a major player in the hotel, casino and horse-racing industries along the East Coast. Vanguard is the No. 9 institutional investor (No. 15 overall), with more than 663,000 shares worth more than $1.6 million.
The bottom line? Vanguard Group has at least a $120-million stake in various Rollins family businesses. Did that help Ted Rollins gain Vanguard's support when it came time to take Campus Crest public? Did it cause Vanguard to overlook any "indiscretions" in Ted Rollins' background? The answer to both questions appears to be yes.
Speaking of irony, consider this press release from the Horatio Alger Association about its annual State of Our Nation's Youth Survey. It includes this quote from association director Terrence J. Giroux:
“It’s the mission of the association to continually invest in our nation’s youth. This survey supports our goal to better understand today’s young people and the most influential changes affecting them."
How has Ted Rollins help further that mission? Let's count the ways:
(1) In 1993, he was investigated for child sexual abuse of his stepson, based on a citizen complaint in Franklin County, North Carolina.
(2) In 1995, he was convicted for assaulting his stepson in Franklin County, North Carolina. The beating was so vicious that emergency-medical personnel administered oxygen because the boy's blood loss put him at risk of going into shock.
(3) In 2005, Rollins filed a false child-support affidavit in his Alabama divorce case. (A case, by the way, that he had unlawfully transferred from South Carolina, where it had been initiated by his wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and litigated for three years.) The false affidavit allowed Rollins to cheat his daughters, Birmingham residents Sarah and Emma Rollins, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of child support.
Ted Rollins representing the virtues of Horatio Alger? Jokes don't get more ugly or cruel than that.