Photo-Illustration: Curbed/Getty Images
On January 6, 2021, a group of real estate agents in Denton, Texas boarded a private jet bound for Washington, D.C. They took lots of selfies: on the jet, flashing peace signs; on Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol Rotunda dome in the distance. When the riots started, they joined the crowd inside the Capitol building, according to the FBI. One of them, Jenna Ryan, took a break from the chaos to promote her residential real estate business in Frisco, Texas, as she livestreamed on Facebook: ‘We’re gonna fucking get in here,’ a she declared at the top of the Capitol. steps after crossing the police line. “Life or death, it doesn’t matter. Here we go.” Then a quick announcement: “You all know who to hire for your real estate agent. Jenna Ryan for your real estate agent!
A year and a half and hundreds of criminal charges by the Justice Department later, we now know that real estate agents were oddly well represented on Capitol Hill that day: passengers on Ryan’s plane and a whole cohort of agents and brokers, commercial and residential, from Chicago’s Gold Coast to the man-made shores of greater Disneyland, all coming together in support of our former real estate magnate president. Alongside far-right militia members and off-duty police, people who spend their days talking square footage and arranging baked goods on gleaming counters for photo ops have answered the call for ” stop the flight”. And even though some of them have been charged – and served their sentences – they remain largely active in the industry with new listings in a white-hot national market. One of them is even a candidate for governor.
Let’s check with a few of them:
Jenna Ryan (Texas)
One of the “North Texas Realty Three”, as they have been dubbed by local media (although there have been more than three), Ryan is the best-known member of a group of real estate professionals who chartered a private plane from Denton to the Capitol. On March 26, 2021, she tweeted, “Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail. Sorry to rain on your hate parade. I did nothing wrong.” A few days before Christmas, she went to a federal prison to serve a 60-day prison sentence for marching, demonstrating or picketing a Capitol building, which ended in February. Now she has returned to selling homes in suburban Dallas as First Place Real Estate. (A “lift-ready” French-style chateau on a creek will set you back $3.8 million.) Ryan also posts on Twitter and TikTok on topics like how to “get thick skin to isolate yourself from enemies,” and she once claims getting a book deal, though she hasn’t spoken about it since. On June 9, she released a return to a class she taught in 2010 on how to get “famous online.”
Ryan Kelley (Michigan)
Kelley was a West Michigan realtor and county commissioner when he witnessed the Capitol riots, where he was would have seen moving a barricade, climbing scaffolding and bringing people into the building. Kelley had active listings on his property website as recently as May, although it has since been dormant. It is probable very busy since he is now running as a Republican candidate in the Michigan gubernatorial election. In fact, he was on the campaign trail when he was arrested by the FBI last week on riot-related charges. “If you didn’t know my name a few days ago, you know it now,” Kelley told MLive days after his arrest. “So there’s been an awful lot of exposure there, and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks with the case.” He faces either a $100,000 fine or one year in prison for four misdemeanors. (“No crime has been committed”, Kelley Told Tucker Carlson on June 13. “Never entered the Capitol building. ) In 2019, a client of Kelley’s brokerage wrote in his Zillow review that Kelley had “a positive attitude and dynamic energy that makes you want to be a part of what he’s been through.”
Libby Andrews (Illinois)
Andrews, a Chicago-based real estate broker, posted photos of the Capitol on Jan. 6 but claims having been on the east side of the building, away from the damage and ongoing violence. She would have job a since-deleted photo of her with the caption “After storming the capital, a good glass of champagne is in order!” Andrews was fired by her employer, @Properties, on January 7, and she eventually for follow-up MSNBC for defamation after the news network included his likeness and name on a show with other rioters. (She was never charged by the Department of Justice.) She is apparently still an active agent with Gold Coast Properties and lists a studio in Chicago’s Trump Tower that’s been on the market for 155 days. (The apartment is described in its listing as “the intersection of cosmopolitan and luxury.”)
Klete Keller, Colorado
A former Olympic swimmer, Keller attended the riots in a Team USA jacket, which he destroyed after he became notorious on social media accounts. In 2020, Keller joined a Colorado Springs-based firm and became the first real estate professional indicted by the FBI on January 13, 2021. He pleaded guilty to a felony in September and faces up to 20 years in a federal prison (although the first rioter convicted on the same charge was sentenced to eight months). Keller’s profile is active on his company website website, where he lists a car wash called Grease Monkey (and a handful of empty lots). His company describes him as a “very hard worker and extremely motivated”, although the brokerage where Keller is listed as an employee took a Yelp hit the day after the riot.
Matthew Montalvo (Florida)
Montalvo was arrested and charged in April for the 25 minutes he spent walking around the Capitol building. As a broker in Kissimmee, Florida, Montalvo focuses on vacation homes in places like the resort town of Margaritaville and homes near Disneyland on the aptly titled website. www.homesalesneardisney.com, which is still active. (The FBI used this site – which included his phone number and a photo of the head – in an effort to verify Montalvo’s identity after he was recorded during the riots.) This SEO for $3.1 million in the planned Disney community of Celebration has a golf course and a pizza oven. His company motto reads in part: “Be a good worker, one who doesn’t need to be ashamed.” Montalvo has so far not publicly commented on the charges against him.