Seth Campbell, the owner of multiple massively successful Keller Williams market centers and an expansion network that spans the country, is in the process of being removed from his affiliation with Keller Williams after a months-long investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Inman has learned.
In a statement, the company confirmed that it’s parting ways with Campbell and disassociating him from Keller Williams Realty International (KWRI), likely a complicated process due to Campbell’s multiple ownership vehicles into the international real estate franchisor.
Conversations with former staffers and agents revealed accusations of illicit text messages, sexually explicit language directed toward younger women in the office and an allegation that Campbell made sexual advances toward a Keller Williams agent who pushed him off after a company event.
“The safety and well-being of our associates is paramount and we do not tolerate harassment of any kind,” a spokesperson for Keller Williams told Inman. “Allegations are taken very seriously.”
“Keller Williams, as a practice, does not comment on pending proceedings,” the spokesperson added. “We have decided to part ways with Mr. Campbell and the process of dissociation within KWRI and all of our affiliates is currently underway.”
Keller Williams declined to elaborate on the timeline of the investigation or when exactly it was concluded and what specifically the investigation revealed.
Campbell declined to address the specific allegations levied against him from former staffers and agents, but did provide Inman the following statement:
“I take issues of workplace harassment seriously and respect the rights of women to work in a harassment free environment. I deeply regret some decisions I’ve made in the past and any pain that I have caused. Out of respect and wellbeing of everyone, I personally made the decision to sell my brokerages to a powerful female leader of the team and will continue to focus on my family while supporting others in building great businesses. It’s my hope that God will use my journey to help others who may feel lost or broken in parts of their life right now to find healing, redemption, freedom and reconciliation in Jesus Christ that I have found. 2 Cor 1:3-4.”
Who is Seth Campbell?
Campbell has been the operating partner of Keller Williams Legacy in Maryland for six years, a Keller Williams franchisee with approximately 500 agents under his supervision. The brokerage finished 335th on the Swanepoel Mega 1000 ranking of the top brokerages in 2019 by sales volume, closing more than $955 million in sales. It was the 70th most productive Keller Williams franchisee by transactions in 2019, according to the Real Trends 500.
He also has experienced significant growth within the company, beyond his own franchise. He was at one time a coach through the company’s Mastery program.
He launched the Five Doors Network, a web of seven Keller Williams expansion franchises that spans the United States, with franchisees in Washington, Idaho, California, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida. Campbell was also a member of Keller Williams co-founder Gary Keller’s private expansion group, which would meet monthly.
Campbell was also a regional director for Keller Williams for the Maryland and Washington D.C. area from 2011 to 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.
His success has rarely been matched within the Keller Williams network, landing once in the top 10 of the Real Trends Thousand ranking of the top agents and teams in the country.
“People really do treat [Campbell] like a god,” a former staffer told Inman. “They follow his every word, think he’s right about everything. He’s just this guru about everything.”
The allegations against Seth Campbell
Keller Williams first acknowledged the investigation during a court hearing regarding a temporary restraining order the company filed against Vlad Kats, a former business partner of Campbell’s, in February 2020. Kats was the co-founder of Keller Williams Legacy and served as its CEO. He was also a board member and CEO of Campbell’s expansion network.
Keller Williams filed a temporary restraining order against Kats when he decided to part ways with Campbell and the company after learning about sexual harassment allegations, according to a hearing transcript obtained by Inman. It was attorneys from Keller Williams that brought up the harassment allegations during the hearing, according to the transcript, not the attorney for Kats.
“The sexual harassment complaints are not by Mr. Kats, they’re by two women in one of the Market Centers,” Kim Edward Brightwell, the lawyer representing Keller Williams Realty International, said during the hearing. “And then there is also, I believe, an allusion to a complaint by someone in a regional office against Mr. Campbell.”
Brightwell acknowledged Keller Williams was looking into allegations, while the attorney for Kats requested the court remove Campbell from his position. According to the transcript, Kats’ attorney specifically said Keller Williams knew about the two complaints in November 2019.
A former agent and, separately, a former administrative staffer under Campbell both described to Inman a climate of gaslighting, harassment, fear and blackmail if someone spoke out about Campbell’s behavior. Both declined to use their names out of fear of retribution.
The former staffer that spoke to Inman was comfortable with Inman identifying her as a woman. Campbell allegedly made sexual remarks about past encounters to the staffer in conversation. Campbell one time allegedly bragged about an agent in the office FaceTiming him while she was in the shower and referred to an explicit group chat he had with two former agents at the office.
“He at one point came into my office and told me about his co-workers when he worked at McDonald’s that he had sex with in the storage closet,” the staffer recalled, referring to a job Campbell had at the fast food restaurant before launching into his real estate career. “He told me about a girl that he had sex with in the woods.”
Inman reviewed a number of text messages allegedly sent by Campbell that were sexually explicit in nature. Another agent in the office vouched for the veracity of the messages.
In one, Campbell and another leader discussed recruiting an agent for one of his expansion franchises before Campbell bragged about sleeping with the agent — in explicit slang — and ultimately decided against it, due to that factor. Campbell also said the agent was on “the list,” likely referring to his alleged sexual conquests.
In other text messages to subordinates, Campbell bragged, in explicit terms, about the size of certain parts of his body and certain surgical enhancements he made to those body parts.
The former staffer referred to a culture at the office that laughed off a lack of a human resources department — joking that Campbell was the HR department — and frequently mocked the sexual harassment investigation. Campbell, in conversation, would use the hashtag “#appropriate.”
“[Keller Williams Legacy] has an extremely unhealthy work environment with a toxic culture,” the former staffer said. “[Campbell] created a toxic work environment from day one.”
The former staffer, who left earlier this month, told Inman that, upon leaving, she received a four-minute-long voicemail from Campbell that intimated that she would need his help to ever work with a Keller Williams affiliate again and that any franchise office that wanted to hire the staffer would need to pay him $25,000.
“The sexual harassment allegations were always beaten down by [Campbell] and put in the dark,” the former staffer told Inman, before adding that Campbell would bash the women that had left the office after accusing him of sexual harassment. One of those women, according to the staffer, was referred to by Campbell as “the wicked witch” after she left.
The staffer was close enough to Campbell that she told Inman she was aware of the investigation into Campbell’s behavior and had even requested to talk to KWRI on Campbell’s behalf. But then, her opinion of him began to change.
“I just felt like, first of all, why are you [Campbell] dragging me into your personal life when I’m just trying to come here and work and go home,” the staffer said.
Campbell’s alleged sexual harassment of other Keller Williams agents goes back to 2015, according to another former agent who developed a business relationship with Campbell over two years. Campbell allegedly repeatedly pushed the boundaries of that relationship, sending an explicit text message via Snapchat once and asking her for pictures, for which he later apologized after confronted about it, according to the agent.
One night in a hotel room in 2016, the agent says Campbell made an advance on her, but stopped after she told him “no,” repeatedly, and pushed him off.
Campbell was in the room because, at the time, he allegedly told the agent that he, “can’t be seen with females in public because people get the wrong impression.”
“After I pushed him off enough and told him ‘No,’ enough, he did stop,” the agent said.
The agent continued to have a slight business relationship with Campbell, seeing him at Keller Williams events, while keeping him at arm’s length. Campbell, she said, used his religion to manipulate the situation and make it seem like he was turning over a new leaf. In personal conversations, he was apologetic and would tell her that he was a man of God, and they have a Christian mission to reach people.
At other company events, however, she had seen that he had not, including a night out that involved Campbell being “publicly reckless,” which is when she eventually went to Keller Williams Realty International and told them about Campbell’s behavior in 2016, approximately six months after the alleged incident in the hotel room.
When did Keller Williams know about the allegations?
According to the former Keller Williams agent who shared her story with Inman, leadership at Keller Williams knew about Campbell’s alleged history of sexual harassment in August 2016, when she reported it to Mo Anderson and Mary Tennant, two former executives with the company, both of whom were on the board of directors at the time.
“I knew that Gary Keller was about to sell some of the regional ownership to [Campbell] and I felt like they deserved to know who they were getting into business with,” the agent said. “So I told a couple of leaders who led me to Mary Tennant and Mo Anderson and that’s when I told them the truth.”
The agent said she trusted that Keller Williams was going to take care of it the way it should be appropriately taken care of.
“I told [Anderson] that I wasn’t really after anything but I believed in their commitment to their values, I thought that they would discipline him,” the agent said. “I heard from someone else that he was no longer able to one-on-one coach people so I thought the ball was in motion.”
She told Inman, in the face-to-face conversation with Anderson, that she showed Anderson inappropriate text messages and told Anderson about his “sexual behavior.”
“She was supposed to follow up with me and have someone talk to me afterward,” the agent said. “And that never happened.”
Neither Tennant nor Anderson, both still on the board of directors, responded to multiple requests for comment about the 2016 meeting to their Keller Williams-affiliated email addresses.
Keller Williams also did not respond to a request for comment asking if the company knew about the 2016 meeting or allegations the agent levied against Campbell.
Inman also obtained copies of emails from the former agent at the Keller Williams Legacy office who described a climate of harassment, from as early as December 2019, that reported the sexual harassment directly to CEO Gary Keller’s email.
The administrative staffer that spoke with Inman also told Inman that she filed a complaint directly to Gary Keller on June 14, 2020, which included the voicemail that she received from Campbell. As of publication, the staffer had not heard back from anyone at Keller Williams.
Keller did not respond to a direct request for comment asking him about the emails, investigation or 2016 meeting.
Kats, now with eXp Realty, declined to speak on the record about the allegations, due to the legal proceedings surrounding his departure, but did express his disappointment in Keller Williams’ handling of the investigation.
“I helped build the team that put Keller Williams on the map in my area and the first thing I got after I told them I was leaving, and explained why — that the sexual harassment investigation was not unfolding to my satisfaction or anybody’s satisfaction from what I understand — was dragged into court,” Kats said. “That has been for me personally a huge disappointment.”
“The company prides itself on taking care of its people,” Kats added. “And I literally supported this company and bled KW red for so long.”
As of June 15, Campbell’s previously public Facebook page appears to have been deleted or put into privacy settings removing it from being searchable. His previously public biography on the “KW Connect,” page, a networking hub for Keller Williams associates, also appears to have been scrubbed.