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Several prominent figures from the world of residential real estate are scheduled to speak this week at an online motivational seminar hosted by Momentifi founder and CEO Gibran Nicholas — who also happens to be running for president.
Momentifi is a content marketing platform for real estate and mortgage professionals, and Nicholas is the author of The StorySeller Adventures, a motivational book that details “How to Grow an Epic Business and Find More Meaning in Your Work.”
Nicholas’ candidacy has received little notice since he announced on April 6 that he’s challenging Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination, and in the end may amount to little more than a publicity stunt.
But it could complicate what would otherwise be routine appearances for speakers at the two-day event Nicholas is putting on this week, including National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and Hope Atuel, CEO of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA).
For one thing, Nicholas’ candidacy might lead members of the public to think that speakers participating in the event are endorsing his presidential campaign. There’s also the question of whether money spent promoting the event — Momentifi paid PR Newswire to publish an April 11 press release, “Presidential Candidate, Gibran Nicholas, to Host Virtual Summit” — should be reported as a campaign expenditure.
Nicholas says he’s researched those issues and has no worries.
“None of the speakers are endorsing my campaign and this is a business event, not a campaign event,” Nicholas told Inman in an email Friday. “The event is based on the StorySelling concepts from my book, The StorySeller Adventures.”
Nicholas filed a statement of organization on March 19 with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to form a campaign committee, Nicholas 2024, for the purpose of reporting fundraising and expenditures. To date, the FEC has received no information about money the campaign has raised or spent.
“We had a conversation with the FEC earlier this week and they informed us that as long as we don’t talk about the campaign at the event, we don’t have to treat it as a campaign event,” Nicholas said Friday. “So, we’ll be refraining from doing so and we won’t be raising any money for the campaign at or after the event.”
Nicholas — whose company paid for a promotional article that appeared on Inman.com in November 2020 — said the FEC pointed him to an advisory opinion governing an honorarium paid to former Ku Klux Klan leader and politician David Duke for a speech he gave at Vanderbilt University.
An NAR spokesperson told Inman that Yun is participating in the event via a prerecorded video.
“When Lawrence agreed to conduct the interview and at the time of the recording, he was unaware that Mr. Nicholas was a presidential candidate,” the NAR spokesperson said in a statement. “Lawrence is not – nor is NAR – endorsing Mr. Nicholas’ presidential campaign. Lawrence is not being compensated for this event.”
Those attending the StorySeller Virtual Summit Wednesday and Thursday will have a choice of a free pass to watch some of the sessions live, or they can pay $495 for “VIP All-Access Pass” that provides on-demand access to all of the sessions, plus additional content on building their business.
Yun is scheduled to address “How to Overcome Objections About the Current Housing Market” at day two of the summit, one of dozens of livestreaming events produced by Atlanta, Georgia-based technology provider Leaderpass.
The topic of Atuel’s talk is “How to Better Understand and Generate Business from the Asian-American Community.”
SimpleNexus co-founder and CEO Ben Miller was originally billed as a presenter on the topic, “How to Start and Grow a $1 Billion Company with No Venture Capital.” But a spokesperson for Miller told Inman he would not be participating in the event, and his name has been removed from the event’s Leaderpass landing page.
“SimpleNexus has an API connection with Relationship Planner, a CRM founded by Gibran Nicholas,” the spokesperson said, and Miller was recently a guest on a podcast hosted by Nicholas, “Road to Growth.” Neither Miller or nCino “have a position on Gibran’s presidential bid and will not be participating in any events related to his campaign,” the spokesperson said.
At publication time, Inman had not heard back from the Asian Real Estate Association of America as to whether members of the public might construe Atuel’s appearance as an endorsements of Nicholas’ presidential campaign or whether she was receiving compensation for her appearance.
Nicholas running as centrist Democrat
In the press release announcing his candidacy, Nicholas linked to a website, gibrannicholas.com, where he hawks the upcoming seminar and his book, The StorySeller Adventures, and also invites visitors to subscribe “get economic, business, and political insights delivered to your email inbox each day.”
But the website is primarily devoted to Nicholas’ presidential campaign. Nicholas laments that “our country is being run by right-wing and left-wing extremists,” and says he hopes “the Democratic Party accepts me and my ideas as a way of reclaiming and reviving the legacy of Presidents Roosevelt, Johnson, and Kennedy.”
Visitors who wish to contribute to Nicholas’ campaign can click on a link that takes them to a landing page at ActBlue.com, a fundraising platform that’s popular with Democratic candidates and liberal organizations.
“Do you want to help launch America’s next chapter? Recommended donation is $50/month, but you can donate up to $3,300 for the primary election or select any custom amount that works for your budget,” they are told.
According to Politico, ActBlue was founded in 2004 and “has been widely credited with supporting Democrats’ substantial small-dollar donor fundraising advantage,” processing more than $3.5 billion for Democratic candidates and progressive organizations during the 2022 election cycle.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that a spokesperson for SimpleNexus co-founder and CEO Ben Miller says he will not be participating in the StorySeller Virtual Summit, and his name has been removed from the web page advertising the event.
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