In January 2010, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in the Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission that allows corporate money to be used for candidate and issue advocacy. Prior to this ruling, many states were prevented from using corporate dollars to fund what’s called independent expenditures. These expenditures are done in support or opposition of a candidate completely independent of any campaign. This is what NAR has historically done with opportunity races. RPAC money was used to fund phone banks, mailings, and radio or TV ads in support of REALTOR-friendly candidates. NAR paid for those activities with RPAC money and did not give those funds directly to the candidate. These independent expenditure opportunity races were done in addition to the RPAC money that was given directly to a candidate for that campaign to decide how to use it. The new Supreme Court ruling means that dues dollars, in addition to RPAC dollars, can now be used to support candidates running for elected office through opportunity races and to advocate for or against issues being considered by the local, state, or federal government.
Every industry, trade group, labor union, and non-profit is anxiously anticipating what this ruling will mean in the political arena. Will large corporations with very deep pockets start engaging in these independent expenditures? Will more and more money be needed to stay relevant in this new political reality? NAR has a long history of power and influence in Washington due in large part to its very active political fundraising through RPAC. As VAR President John Dickinson recently stated, “The real estate profession is confronting monumental issues—from the mortgage interest deduction to Fannie and Freddie reform to the mortgage lending process to the availability of credit—that clearly have an impact on your ability to do business.” To maintain its dominance in Washington, NAR has launched the REALTOR® Political Survival Initiative to support candidates and issues that are favorable to the real estate industry and homeownership.
To fund this new initiative, NAR is proposing a dedicated dues increase of $40. Here is a breakdown of the details of the new initiative:
- Funds will be used specifically for political advocacy efforts
- Funds will supplement RPAC, not replace it
- NAR will use a portion of the funds to support candidates running for federal office and to advocate on national issues like mortgage interest deduction, Fannie and Freddie reform, and other national housing issues
- Funds will be shared between NAR and state and local associations using a per member formula
- VA will get about $145,000 per year split 50% for state use and 50% for local use
- Local money can be used to support candidates at the City Council and Board of Supervisors or for public education on issues of importance like the 2009 VRE campaign
NAR has a dedicated page on the Realtor Action Center with lots of information about the proposal. The NAR Board of Directors, which includes over 800 REALTOR® representatives from all across the U.S., will vote on this proposal at the MidYear Meeting in May. FAAR has put out a survey to get feedback from members about this new initiative. Click here to take the survey, we want to hear from you.Tweet