After failing to initially pledge to stop donating money to the campaigns of lawmakers who voted against certification of Joe Biden’s victory as president after an insurgency on the U.S. Capitol, the National Association of Realtors is suspending all federal political donations amid calls from some members for changes to its political action committee.
The Real Estate Agents Political Action Committee (PRPP) makes direct contributions to national, state and local political candidates with voluntary contributions from its members. The PRPP Board of Directors makes decisions about funding federal applicants.
“Following last Tuesday’s PRPP board meeting, our association is temporarily suspending federal political disbursements,” NAR spokesman Wes Shaw told Inman in an emailed statement. “NAR will continue to closely monitor events in Washington in the days and weeks to come to ensure that our political participation closely represents the will of our member real estate agents and the best interests of US real estate.
“Federal PRPP applicants’ contribution decisions are made in conjunction with state associations and state trustees. The PRPP is proud to be the largest and most bipartisan political action committee managed on behalf of a professional association in the United States. In fact, about 51% of our involvement in the 2020 federal races came on behalf of the Democrats, while 49% was in favor of the Republicans. “
The NAR has long argued that the PRPP did not favor Democrats or Republicans, but instead supports candidates who support the “Realtors Party” – which, in practice, means the Democrats and Republicans in place with a history of supporting government grants for home ownership and other real estate. friendly policies.
According to the NARs Realtor Party website, PRPP supports candidates of any party who understand and advocate for real estate issues, and spending is based on politicians’ support for real estate issues.
But over the years, some members have also expressed their dissatisfaction with this position to the detriment of all other issues. The PRPP prepares to be a battleground as some members question PRPP funds going to lawmakers who nevertheless insisted on voting against certification after the Capitol siege. Dozens of companies, including Zillow and Airbnb, have announced that they will withhold donations from those lawmakers or, like NAR, freeze their federal political contributions entirely.
There is a precedent for the NAR to change its campaign contribution policies based on a political stance. In 2018, NAR removed former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from Orange County, Calif., From its President’s Circle donation program because of his anti-LGBTQ stances.
The PRPP distributed more than $ 1.2 million in the 2020 election cycle – the third highest number of all PACs – to members of the so-called “sedition caucus” – the 147 Republican lawmakers who signed up. opposed to the Electoral College’s results in the presidential election, thus supporting baseless and false allegations of widespread electoral fraud, according to the campaign monitoring body, the Center for Responsible Politics.
“Many of us have always been supporters of the PRPP, and this year I will be entering the PRPP Hall of Fame,” wrote Budge Huskey, CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, in a commentary on a blog post about a real estate agent who participated in the riot.
Huskey’s comment continued: “This can’t go on as usual anymore. I have asked the NAR leadership to reject the approval or future financial support of the PRPP from any member of the House or Senate who voted not to certify the outcome of free and fair elections, many of which continue to declaring the big lie for the purpose of personal gain in stature or fundraising.
“These are the catalysts that have contributed to our situation where DC must become a green zone and state capitals must be surrounded by a national guard. They will not be rewarded with my dollars or any other NAR member. I will watch and the result will determine if my recent Major Sponsor donation will be the last. “
In one Facebook feed Of a PRPP conference to be held in person in April, Coral Gundlach, real estate agent at Compass, said the NAR’s contributions to anti-certification lawmakers “sickened[ed]She and she “would never give the PRPP a dime again.” I seriously regret never having given it away in the past and warn my realtor friends to stop showing their big donor status and the freebies they have received because of it.
She added, “The PRPP is constantly giving back to lawmakers who I believe are trying to destroy the country. The laser focus only on property rights is no longer enough. They donated money to many of the insurgency facilitators currently in Congress. I can not.
Gundlach recognized the need to protect the interests of the real estate industry. “But strongly encouraging us to make large donations and ignore the policies and votes of these candidates on other issues is where I draw a hard line. I don’t know what the solution is yet, but I think they need to change a lot of their messaging and tactics to get donations, ”she wrote.
In the same thread, Rosemary Phinney Buerger, office manager at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Koehler Realty, said NAR should look at what a person supports beyond private property rights. “Shouldn’t we be looking at fair housing and economic growth for all?
Erik Hinshaw, a broker and realtor with the Hawai’i Life brokerage, suggested that NAR’s position put the trading group “[a]always on the wrong side of history. Lining supported. Supported Dan White, the murderer of Harvey Milk. Etc. No lessons learned.
Andrea Geller, broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago, said she was a major donor and raised funds and acted as the local PAC administrator for many years, but “I can’t stand it anymore. To do “.
“They really have to go beyond what’s good for realtors,” Geller told Inman via email. “Candidates / lawmakers need to be vetted over how their platforms and votes… affect the country as a whole, states and communities. If we cannot build and maintain economically and socially strong and stable communities, then what is “good for realtors” doesn’t really matter. “
In the Facebook thread, Geller said that NAR and local and state estate agent associations should open discussions through surveys and focus groups “to understand why those of us who are okay PRPP educated believe the decision-making process is outdated and has been for a while, determining what changes need to be made to re-engage us, as well as engage those who have always followed where the $$ goes and n ‘never gave because of it.
In a separate Facebook post, Leslie Ebersole, broker at eXp Realty, said it made no sense to her that PACs, “especially those of large organizations or associations, should channel equal amounts of money to candidates from both parties, often in the same race. “We have to pay for access no matter who wins” is nothing more than political appeasement, “she wrote.
She added, “I feel like now is a good time to think about why we are doing some of the things we are doing. It’s never too late to change course and improve.
Inman asked NAR to comment on the views of these members as well as how long it is suspending federal political disbursements, why it is suspending disbursements, the criteria NAR will use to decide when to restart disbursements and to whom, the steps Specific NAR will ensure that its political participation represents the will of its members and the best interests of US real estate and why it is important to NAR that it has the most bipartisan PAC among professional associations. NAR declined to comment.
Send an email to Andrea V. Brambila.