The fallout continues for the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) following revelations of lewd remarks made by its chairman.
Last week is was revealed that AIME chairman and founder Anthony Casa is being sued for defamation for making crude, sexually explicit remarks about Theresa Niemiec, the wife of Quicken Loans executive vice president Austin Niemiec. Shortly thereafter, Flagstar Bank, Plaza Home Mortgage and Caliber Home Loans, all sponsors of AIME, withdrew their support. Other lenders, including Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG) and United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) have continued to stand by AIME but have issued statements condemning Casa’s remarks.
On Thursday, Casa released a statement apologizing for the remarks and saying he would be taking “a leave of absence” from AIME.
“The AIME team will be led by our President, Marc Summers and EVP of Strategy, Katie Sweeney,” Casa wrote in the statement. “AIME’s mission and focus will not change.”
In a Facebook post about Casa’s leave of absence, Sweeney reiterated AIME’s mission while acknowledging that sexism is an issue in the industry.
“The industry and its current leaders have some hard work ahead to ensure women are treated with the same respect as our male counterparts,” she said. “I trust that AIME and Anthony will play a role in that positive change. I intend to make sure of it. … I will not let you down. Marc will not let you down. The talented, diverse, and dedicates team we’ve assembled at AIME will not let you down.”
However, some lenders – including the sponsors who withdrew their support – say a simple leave of absence isn’t enough, and that they will not sponsor AIME while Casa is affiliated with the organization.
“As a result of the indefensible behavior of AIME’s chairman, Plaza Home Mortgage has decided to suspend its sponsorship of AIME,” the company said in a statement. “… Harassment and misogynistic behavior cannot and will not be tolerated by our company in any form. Although Plaza fully supports the mission of AIME and its members, we cannot sponsor the organization under its current leadership structure.”
Caliber Home Loans also said in a statement that it would “continue to withhold all support from AIME” while CASA is associated with it.
Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG) and United Wholesale Mortgage, meanwhile, have issued statements condemning Casa’s statements but have continued to support AIME. PRMG founder and CEO Paul Rozo told MPA that while Casa’s behavior was “reprehensible,” he doesn’t feel the company should “walk away” from the broker community represented by AIME.
“There’s so many levels you can go to on what Anthony Casa did, and it’s just wrong one every level,” Rozo said. “From a professional level – every way you can slice this, it is disgusting. I am not supporting him in this at all, but I’m not necessarily turning my back on AIME until I see what they’re doing. Actions speak louder than words.”