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Two board members of a local Florida Realtor association have resigned their posts following a conflict-of-interest investigation involving the association’s president and its CEO — and a third is considering resigning.
On Tuesday, the board of directors of the Greater Tampa Realtors sent out an email to its more than 15,000 members informing them that the board “is aware” that GTR’s president, Jay Quigley, represented GTR’s current CEO, Jason Outman, in the purchase of his house and that the board had held a special meeting to discuss whether Quigley had violated GTR’s conflict of interest policy.
Quigley is an agent at Florida Executive Realty and the five-bedroom five-bathroom home in a gated community in Valrico, Florida, sold for $765,000 with a 2.5 percent buyer broker commission.
According to the email, the GTR board “made its decision” but that the decision “will remain confidential … in compliance with the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.”
“We understand the concerns that may have arisen because of this situation, and we want to assure you that our primary goals are to comply with our Fiduciary Duties, safeguarding the interests of GTR’s members and upholding the reputation of GTR,” the email reads.
“To accomplish these goals the GTR Board will conduct a comprehensive review of our governance and mechanisms to identify areas for improvement. Moreover we will continuously stress that any potential, perceived or actual conflict must be disclosed promptly and addressed appropriately pursuant to GTR’s Policies and Procedures.”
The email from GTR does not mention that two board members have already resigned over the situation. Real estate broker Annette Newkirk, GTR’s former vice president and a member of the Executive Committee, resigned on May 21.
“President Jay made a unilateral decision to represent CEO Jason and received a financial gain, showing self-interest, not in the interest of the organization,” Newkirk wrote in her resignation letter to the Executive Committee.
“This is an egregious violation of our code of ethics, and it deeply troubles me as to how this situation was allowed to unfold. Would President Jay have been given the opportunity to represent CEO had he not held his current position? Very unlikely.”
She added that Quigley had shown “NO REMORSE OR ACCEPTANCE OF HIS WRONGDOING…total disrespect to all of his leadership team. I am very disappointed and CAN NOT stand alongside a leader who would appear incompetent of his duties and/or totally self-serving.”
Newkirk said she agreed with the board’s “verdict but not the sentencing,” suggesting that Quigley had been found to have violated the conflict of interest policy but had received some minor discipline.
“[I]t felt very lenient for a matter this serious and sets a bad precedent for holding our leaders accountable,” Newkirk wrote.
“In my opinion, this behavior is unacceptable and should have held a minimum of temporary suspension. … [A]s executives leading this prestigious organization, we cannot allow such self-serving behavior to go unchecked with a mere slap on the hand.”
On May 25, Kimberly Aguilar, an agent at LPT Realty, resigned from her role as a director of the GTR board. Aguilar does not specifically mention Quigley or Outman in her resignation letter, instead referring to her feeling that the board “is no longer moving in a positive direction” for GTR’s members.
“I feel like the actions and issues we have been dealing with as of late are unproductive and embarrassing, and I need to turn my focus to my family, business and community,” Aguilar wrote.
Both Newkirk and Aguilar verified the copies of their resignations that Inman obtained, but declined to comment further.
GTR director Johnny Loewy also told Inman he was considering resigning. “I haven’t made a decision yet, but I am very unhappy with everything,” he wrote via text message. Asked for the reason he was unhappy, Loewy did not respond on the record.
Vincent Arcuri, an agent at LPT Realty and GTR member, posted GTR’s email to Facebook on Tuesday, decrying the fact that GTR’s Executive Committee — its president, president-elect, vice president, treasurer, and secretary — used to be voted in by members. But now, the board of directors appoints the positions on the Executive Committee, meaning whether someone becomes an officer of GTR is now decided by 16 people. (The GTR board has 17 directors, one of whom is an affiliate director and is non-voting.)
“This is the EXACT REASON I have an issue with the Executive Team (President, Vice President etc) being appointed by the Board, rather than ELECTED by the membership,” Arcuri wrote.
“This is the FIRST group that was ‘appointed’ and look at the direction we are headed. … From where I sit, those people are supposed to be representing the 16,000 members of GTR and it looks to me like they are representing themselves. To me, this early morning e-mail is the broom they are using to sweep this under the rug.”
In an emailed statement to Inman, GTR spokesperson Kimberly Chin noted that Executive Committee positions are voluntary, non-paid positions, except for the CEO who is a non-voting member of the committee.
Chin added that GTR changed its bylaws in November 2020 after a four-day online vote open to all members in which two-thirds of the voting members approved of the changes.
Arcuri said the vote took place “[w]hen COVID hit.” Despite GTR’s promotion of the vote, less than 10 percent of GTR’s 14,000-plus members at the time participated in the vote, according to GTR.
“The change to the Bylaws was made so the elections of officers would take place by the current Board of Directors because these are the people who are working closely with the candidates throughout the year and are able to identify emerging leaders,” Chin said.
“In prior elections, only members who met the strict criteria for the officer positions would be eligible to run for Officer positions, sometimes resulting in an officer being elected that had not served on the Board in years.”
Regarding Quigley’s representation of Outman in Outman’s home purchase, Chin said GTR’s board had “relied on its Policy Manual updated in May 2023 to determine whether a conflict of interest existed, the duty to disclose a conflict of interest, and the procedure to follow when there has been a violation of GTR’s conflict of interest policy.”
GTR declined to provide the text of the conflict of interest policy and to respond to further questions about the investigation and its outcome, referring instead to the official statement it emailed to its members.
GTR’s board approved Outman’s hire as CEO at the board’s February board meeting, according to Arcuri. On March 22, GTR announced Outman’s appointment and that same day, the home Outman ultimately bought with Quigley’s representation went under contract.
Outman purchased the five-bedroom, five-bathroom home for $765,000 and the buyer broker received a 2.5 percent commission, or $19,125. The deal closed on April 24, 2023 — nearly three weeks after Outman assumed his duties as CEO.
Arcuri told Inman that he chose to speak out about the situation “[b]ecause the President is so flippant about it and is refusing to take any responsibility for his actions. I feel like the members of GTR did not know about it. And I wanted the members to know what was happening. GTR boasts of this transparency that they don’t have.”
Outman told Inman in an emailed statement that the National Association of Realtors’ human resources department had conducted the CEO search for GTR and “was a part of the interviewing process along with the GTR search committee.”
“I am excited to be with GTR and looking forward to the future of the association,” Outman said. He declined to comment further beyond GTR’s official statement.
Arcuri told Inman that many GTR members were upset and in disbelief that the email from GTR “does not really say anything.” Several members responded to Arcuri’s Facebook post with comments asking for transparency from GTR.
“I believe in full transparency,” wrote one commenter. “I pay to be a member. They should publish the findings of the board and the outcome.”
Others suggested that merging the local Realtor associations may be the answer.
“Just merge the boards and be done!” wrote another commenter. “Silly to have 3 boards left in Tampa Bay! Need 1 large to [best] serve the members.”
Another commenter wrote that since Quigley’s picture is still on the GTR website as its president, “I can assume all he got was a slap on his wrist. We pay to belong to this board and should have the right to elect our own representatives and to know what the heck is going on. Maybe it’s time to cross the bay.”
Quigley did not respond to a request for comment.