June 21, 2007
Utahn Robert Lichfield's legal trouble surrounding his schools for troubled teens have been linked to his fund raising for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a story published today in Washington-based newspaper The Hill.
Lichfield, one of Utah's top political donors, is also one of six co-chairmen of Romney's Utah finance team. The article says the candidate has "collected hundreds of thousands of dollars through the fund-raising efforts of a supporter targeted by several lawsuits alleging child abuse."
The story points out that 133 plaintiffs have alleged in a federal court case filed in Utah that Lichfield owned or operated schools where students suffered "physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse" ranging from unsanitary living conditions, exposure to extreme temperatures, beatings, confinement in dog cages, or sexual fondling.
There is also a pending case in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of New York that alleges Lichfield and several partners defraud people by operating an unlicensed boarding school in upstate New York, according to the article. Such claims against Lichfield are not new, nor is his work raising money for Romney, as he has raised money for numerous political candidates. But the story says the "allegations could force Romney to re-examine his relationship with his Utah finance co-chairman or put pressure on him to give away the contributions Lichfield helped raise."
"Mr. Lichfield has donated to many Republican candidates and committees. He is one of tens of thousands of donors to the campaign. The Romney campaign will continue its policy of making fund-raising efforts transparent," said Gail Gitcho, Romney's Deputy Press Secretary for Regional Media.
Lichfield has not responded to a message left today, but Ken Kay, president of World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools told The Hill that the lawsuits are just a ploy to get money and dismissed the credibility of former students making allegations.