The National Association of Realtors’ leader said she recently received a “threat to disclose a past personal, non-financial matter unless she compromised her position at NAR.”
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National Association of Realtors President Tracy Kasper resigned from her position Monday, effective immediately, following what she says was a “threat” of blackmail.
Kevin Sears, who became NAR’s president-elect in November, has stepped into the role of president, the 1.5 million-member trade group said in an announcement Monday.
NAR said Kasper had informed its leadership team of a recently received “threat to disclose a past personal, non-financial matter unless she compromised her position at NAR. She refused to do so and instead reported the threat to law enforcement. Ms. Kasper felt that, in the circumstances, it was best for the organization that she step down.
“The Leadership Team is deeply concerned about any attempt to undermine its governance and, as a result, is taking steps to protect the integrity of the organization.”
NAR declined to comment on who sent the blackmail threat, when it was sent, the matter the threat was referring to, how Kasper was asked to compromise her position, law enforcement involvement, and steps NAR is taking.
Kasper’s resignation is a shocking end to a term that began in a time of turmoil for the organization. In August, former NAR President Kenny Parcell resigned two days after a New York Times exposé on sexual harassment allegations against him was published. In September, some NAR employees demanded the resignations of NAR CEO Bob Goldberg, NAR Chief Legal Officer Katie Johnson, and NAR’s head of human resources, Donna Gland. The employees alleged the executives protected those accused of creating a toxic work environment, including Parcell.
After initially throwing its support behind Goldberg, NAR announced his early retirement on Nov. 2, two days after the association lost a class-action antitrust case, Sitzer | Burnett, in which the jury awarded the homeseller plaintiffs nearly $1.8 billion in damages set to be automatically tripled to nearly $5.4 billion under the law. On Nov. 9, NAR announced Gland would retire at the end of the year after 38 years at the trade group.
Kasper, President-Elect Kevin Sears, First Vice President Kevin Brown and several others were officially installed at NAR’s annual conference, NAR NXT, in mid-November. On Nov. 20, Nykia Wright, former CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times, came on board as NAR’s new interim CEO.
In a statement, Kasper said she was putting the interests of NAR first.
“As a result of the recent threat and given the significance of this moment for myself, my family and the organization, it is again time for me to put the interests of NAR first,” Kasper said.
“So, it is with a mix of gratitude and a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as your president effective immediately. In doing so, it gives our Leadership Team the ability to take the reins and forge forward in effecting the change that we all have worked so hard over the past few months to begin. I know I leave our members, our staff and our association in good hands.”
NAR said it appreciated Kasper’s years of service and dedication, particularly her advocacy for homeownership for all.
“NAR’s work to strengthen the organization continues uninterrupted, and NAR remains focused on leading our industry forward and ensuring transparent and competitive marketplaces for American home buyers and sellers,” the trade group said.
Jason Haber, founder of the NAR Accountability Project, which sprang up after the association became mired in scandal and who called for the replacement of NAR’s top leaders, denounced the alleged threat against Kasper.
“While the NAR Accountability Project strongly believed it was time for a change in leadership at NAR, the circumstances surrounding Ms. Kasper’s resignation are of great concern,” Haber told Inman in a statement.
“No one should be the victim of threats, intimidation or harassment. If that happened to Ms. Kasper, that person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.”
The NAR Accountability Project continues to call for NAR to release women who have come forward with sexual harassment allegations from non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from talking about their experiences.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with details from Kasper’s tenure as NAR president and a comment from the NAR Accountability Project.