Washington real estate broker John MacMillan Cameron, who was arrested earlier this month for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to the episode, after surveillance footage and his own Facebook account clued the FBI into his participation, according to a court filing released last week.
According to a criminal complaint, surveillance footage from the Capitol building that day showed a middle-aged man believed to be Cameron wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, a white t-shirt saying “COUNT ALL LEGAL VOTES” and an American flag cape entering the building through a Senate wing door less than 10 minutes after rioters first breached the building through that same door. He allegedly was inside for about 22 minutes before climbing out of a broken window to leave.
A tipster pointed the FBI to Cameron’s publicly-accessible Facebook account where he uploaded photos and commentary from his trip to Washington D.C., including pictures and videos of himself and the crowd at the riot, according to the complaint.
“In his comments, he said of his experience at the U.S. Capitol: ‘Was it pretty? No. Did it make a statement? Yes,’” the complaint said. “He said he didn’t know who had broken the doors down at the Capitol building. He also said it was a fun, exciting, interesting, and historic event.”
According to the complaint, Cameron posted a more close-up picture of himself at what appears to be a Washington D.C. metro station in which he said, “The least safe I felt was when walking back to catch train I was told to F U by a little antifa BLMer on a Vespa who was traveling the opposite direction.”
Cameron, 55, of Port Orchard, was formerly a broker for Link Real Estate LCC and his license is currently inactive. Link Real Estate did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Cameron was arrested on Jan. 5, 2022, nearly a year after the insurrection, and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. He pleaded not guilty on Jan. 18 and was released on personal recognizance as the case proceeds.
If convicted of all charges, Cameron faces three years in prison and fines, The Seattle Times reported earlier this month.
Cameron did not respond to emailed requests for comment. His attorney, Angus Lee, told the Times that his client was a husband and father with no criminal history and is “not accused of any form of violence or destruction of property.”
“I think it’s important for people to understand that,” Lee told the paper. “He’s essentially being prosecuted for the crime of picketing or protesting in the wrong location.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, a mob, with Realtors among them, stormed the U.S. Capitol building and rioted while lawmakers attempted to certify the results of the 2020 election, resulting in several deaths and more than 150 injured police officers. Cameron is the latest real estate professional to have allegedly participated in the event and at least the third to be charged.
Some agents who allegedly participated in the incident were Jenna Ryan, who is currently serving a 60-day prison sentence for her actions that day, Klete Keller, who is likely headed to prison, but has been hired back by his real estate brokerage while he cooperates with authorities, and Libby Andrews, who has not been charged but was fired from her brokerage and then re-hired by another.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Cameron is not currently an active Realtor. The trade group did not respond to a request for comment asking if he was previously a Realtor.
A report released earlier this month found that NAR was the second biggest donor among trade groups to the campaigns of lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.
After the insurrection, NAR and Rocket Mortgage pledged to pause all federal political donations and review their political spending while Zillow and Airbnb committed to withholding support from lawmakers who voted against certifying election results. At the time, NAR faced calls from some members for changes to its political action committee, which has historically donated to lawmakers who support real estate issues, regardless of their stances on other issues.
A year later, Zillow and Airbnb have kept their commitments, while NAR and Rocket Mortgage have resumed contributions to some lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election results, known as the “Sedition Caucus.”
After the report was released, Inman received unsolicited inquiries from readers asking who to contact at NAR and Rocket Mortgage for feedback on their donation policies.
“[A] single, centralized person or entity does not control the process,” Patrick Newton, NAR’s director of advocacy communications, told Inman in a statement.
Newton said to direct members to the contact pages of their local, state, and national association websites with any concerns.
NAR has an RPAC Trustees Federal Disbursement Committee whose purpose is, in part, “To enhance the political effectiveness of the National Association of Realtors by making direct contributions for the purpose of assisting real estate-supported candidates win election to federal office” and has decision-making authority over political disbursements.
Last year, NAR had a presidential advisory group, the 2021 RPAC Federal Disbursements PAG, which recommended that NAR create a series of education and information videos on different issues and topics for use by state and local associations in order to educate Realtor members at large about how the committee functions and what it does, among other recommendations. NAR’s leadership team approved the recommendations, but NAR declined to comment on whether and when the series would be created.
“Regarding the PAG, we have no announcement to make on it at this time,” Newton said.
In regards to where to send feedback on Rocket Mortgage’s donation policies, company spokesperson Valerie Pesonen told Inman, “Please direct folks to email@example.com.”