Checking In With the Real-Estate Brokers at the Insurrection
Photo-Illustration: Curbed/Getty Images
On January 6, 2021, a group of Realtors in Denton, Texas, boarded a private jet to Washington, D.C. They took a lot of selfies: on the jet, flashing peace signs; on Pennsylvania Avenue with the dome of the Capitol Rotunda in the distance. When the riots started, they joined the mob inside the Capitol building, according to the FBI. One of them, Jenna Ryan, took a break from the chaos to promote her residential-realty business in Frisco, Texas, as she livestreamed on Facebook: “We are going to fucking go in here,” she said at the top of the Capitol steps after breaching the line of police. “Life or death, it doesn’t matter. Here we go.” Then a quick advertisement: “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor!”
A year and a half and hundreds of criminal charges by the Justice Department later, we now know that Realtors were bizarrely well represented at the Capitol that day: the passengers on Ryan’s plane and an entire cohort of agents and brokers, commercial and residential, from the Gold Coast of Chicago to the manmade lakeshores of greater Disneyland, all rallying in support of our former real-estate-mogul president. Along with the far-right militia members and off-duty police, people who spend their days talking square footage and arranging pastries on gleaming countertops for staging photoshoots answered the call to “stop the steal.” And even as some of them have been charged — and served their time — they remain largely active in the industry with new listings in a white-hot national market. One of them is even running for governor.
Let’s check in with a few of them:
Jenna Ryan (Texas)
One of the “North Texas Realty Three,” as they have been dubbed by local media (though there were more than three), Ryan is the most well-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 hater parade. I did nothing wrong.” Days before Christmas, she surrendered to a federal prison to serve a 60-day prison sentence on charges of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, which ended in February. Now she is back to selling houses around the Dallas suburbs under the name First Place Real Estate. (An “elevator ready” French-style chateau on a creek will set you back $3.8 million.) Ryan also posts on Twitter and TikTok about such topics as how to “get thick skin to insulate from haters,” and she once claimed to have gotten a book deal, though she hasn’t mentioned it since. On June 9, she posted a throwback to a class she taught in 2010 on how to become “famous online.”
Ryan Kelley (Michigan)
Kelley was a western Michigan real-estate agent and county commissioner when he attended the Capitol riots, where he was reportedly seen moving a barricade, climbing scaffolding, and waving people into the building. Kelley had active listings on his real-estate website as recently as May, though it has since been dormant. He’s likely very busy since he is now running as a Republican candidate in Michigan’s gubernatorial election. In fact, he was on the campaign trail when he was arrested by the FBI last week on charges related to the riots. “If you didn’t know my name a couple of days ago, you know it now,” Kelley told MLive days after his arrest. “So, there’s been a tremendous amount of exposure there, and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks with the case.” He faces either a fine of $100,000 or a year in prison for four misdemeanors. (“There was no crime committed,” Kelley told Tucker Carlson on June 13. “Never entered the Capitol building.”) In 2019, a client of Kelley’s brokerage wrote in their Zillow review that Kelley had a “positive attitude and dynamic energy that makes you want to be a part of what he has going on.”
Libby Andrews (Illinois)
Andrews, a Chicago-based real-estate broker, posted photos from the Capitol on January 6 but claimed to have been on the east side of the building, away from the damage and violence taking place. She reportedly posted a since-deleted photo of herself with the caption “After storming the capital a good glass of champagne is needed!” Andrews was fired by her employer, @Properties, on January 7, and she eventually sued MSNBC for defamation after the news network included her image and name in a broadcast with other rioters. (She has never been charged by the Justice Department.) 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 her 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 it became notorious on social-media accounts. In 2020, Keller joined a Colorado Springs–based firm and became the first real-estate professional charged by the FBI on January 13, 2021. He pleaded guilty to a felony in September and faces up to 20 years in federal prison (though the first rioter sentenced on the same charge got eight months). Keller’s profile is active on his company’s 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 driven,” though the brokerage where Keller is listed as employed has taken a Yelp hit in the aftermath of 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 such as the Margaritaville resort and houses near Disneyland on the aptly titled website www.homesalesneardisney.com, which is still active. (The FBI used this website — which featured his phone number and headshot — in its effort to verify Montalvo’s identity after he was recorded at the riots.) This listing 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 does not need to be ashamed.” Montalvo has so far not commented publicly on the charges against him.