Robert Lichfield of La Verkin, who founded the umbrella group called the Worldwide Association of Specialty Schools, brought in some $300,000 earlier this year for Romney during a single Utah event and has donated tens of thousands to the former Massachusetts governor and other Republicans in recent years.
Lichfield is named in a federal lawsuit charging that students of the "behavior modification" schools with ties to WWASPS were subjected to "physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse." The suit had 140 defendants at last count.
WWASPS president Ken Kay declined to comment Thursday to The Salt Lake Tribune but told Radaronline.com that the Romney campaign asked Lichfield to resign his spot on the finance team. Lichfield could not be reached for comment.
"Gov. Romney has asked Mr. Lichfield to step down and not be involved in any more fund-raising until the lawsuit is resolved in the positive, which we are confident will happen," Kay told Radaronline.com via e-mail.
Romney's campaign disputes Kay's account, saying Lichfield resigned on his own in July and Kay has no standing to comment on the campaign's internal workings.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Utah, alleges brazen acts of child abuse, including that students of the various programs had been forced to eat their own vomit, clean toilets with a toothbrush and brush their teeth afterward, were chained or locked in dog cages, kicked, beaten, thrown and slammed to the ground and forced into sexual acts.
Kay previously called the lawsuit's allegations "ludicrous."
"We don't condone any type of child abuse and it's highly unlikely that any of the incidents ever happened," Kay said.