The Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR), an organization that we’ve repeatedly suggested is ethically challenged, just sent an email news release announcing that it had filed a defamation suit against one of its members.
The suit, which names Andrea Geller as a defendant, is apparently based on allegedly defamatory comments posted on a Chicago Agent Magazine article. Geller is a current member of CAR’s Finance Committee and a former Board Member.
I reached out to Geller, who indicated that she had not yet been served and had not seen a copy of the suit. You can read more in this Tribune Breaking News article.
According to CAR’s news release:
“It is with a heavy heart that the C.A.R. Board of Directors and I have authorized this action against one of our own members — but that member left us with no choice,” said REALTOR® Zeke Morris, president of C.A.R. and Operating Principal and Managing Broker, Keller Williams Realty, CCG. Mr. Morris stated further, “the ongoing false statements about fictitious financial issues are intolerable and inexcusable, particularly in light of the fact that the Association urged Ms. Geller over the course of several weeks to identify specific concerns so they could be investigated. Rather than act responsibly, she continued with the defamatory posts, through and including this past weekend. We were forced to take action to protect the Association’s well-earned respect and reputation.”
“With freedom of speech comes responsibility,” Mr. Morris stated, “and it is wrong to use the ease of the Internet to cast repeated, unsupported and false aspersions on our staff, volunteers and on our Association. The Board has great confidence in its CEO, its Chief Operations and Financial Officer, and the rest of its financial staff, along with its Finance Committee. The Association’s budgeting process is thorough, open, and comprehensive, with members involved in myriad committees to shape the offerings of the Association – from education to events, programs and beyond. The Association’s finances are annually audited by independent certified public accountants. We have been, and will continue to be, good and responsible stewards of our members’ dues.” That stewardship requires C.A.R. to protect the Association and its staff and members from the damage that can come from defamation.
CAR’s approach to Ms Geller doesn’t strike me as the most professional way to deal with a dissident member. Following soon after CAR’s removal of its president, who had also questioned CAR’s finances, this heavy-handed tactic could easily leave the public wondering.
NOTE: Andrea Geller is affiliated with Coldwell Banker, a client of our parent firm.