Monday, July 26, 2010

OKCMAR & Politics- SAY WHAT???


Yesterday my staff received an angry phone call from a member. She was upset that OKCMAR was involved in politics- and had invited an NAR endorsed candidate and local OKCMAR member to speak at the RCA luncheon. Her words, paraphrased"OKCMAR should not be involved in politics" & "If I would have known that my RPAC dollars were going towards supporting candidates I would not have contributed". While I respectfully appreciate her opinion I can not help but do a "Say What??? When one joins a trade association they are joining a group of people who band together to promote their industry- that is what an association exists for. Group pricing benefits and ancillary services, such as MLS, are just that benefits and services, they are not the purpose or higher goal of the group/association.

To say REALTORS® and their group force as an association/trade association should not be involved in politics is to say we have no interest in ensuring the quality of life in Oklahoma (through economic development, affordable housing, private property rights, environmental sustainability) and preserving our industry and ability to make a living. RPAC Is Your Insurance of Continued Ability To Do Business and Insurance that the American Dream of Home Ownership Continues and is Attainable to the Largest Group. Our code of ethics is based on the widest distribution of land to the widest population. It is what separates the United States of America from every other country in that the average citizen can own not only their own home but the land it sits on, a freedom we all take for granted but very little of the world enjoys.

If REALTORS® weren't involved in politics the first time home buyers credit which stimulated millions of dollars in home sales nationally during the worst recession in decades was a direct result of REALTORS® (and their associations) in politics. REALTORS® in politics is what created the second time buyers move up credit. I myself spoke on your behalf to our federal legislators to convince them how imperative an expanded credit was to our economy. These credits bolstered our industry & the Oklahoma economy (and OKC REALTORS® home sales) in the face of economic crisis.

 It was REALTORS® in politics that pressured congress to extend the national flood insurance program last month safeguarding homes across the USA. It was REALTORS® in politics that forced Mortgage Modification programs that kept millions of Americans in their homes and out of foreclosure. It was REALTORS® in politics that prevented sales tax on real estate agents' commissions. If it weren't for REALTORS® in politics the mortgage interest deduction which gives great incentive to own rather than rent, would have been eliminated decades ago. Not only do REALTORS® need to be involved in politics to safeguard the American Dream of home ownership if it weren't for the REALTORS® the many freedoms (talk to me about eminent domain laws), rights and privileges we take for granted today would not exist. Please do not tell me REALTORS® do not belong in politics. Legislative advocacy is one of the core components of our corporate charter with the state of Oklahoma and our non-profit status with the IRS. To fully understand the association role in political involvement I urge readers to visit NAR's REALTOR® Action Center.

As to the second part of the member's complaint I can't help but question the member's understanding of what RPAC is. I can only take responsibility for those members who have gone through orientation since my employ, where we do make it very clear what RPAC is. I try to touch everyone else through the OKCMAR eblasts, website and quarterly magazine and this blog, as to what RPAC is and only hope that they read it.

First RPAC exists to fund political campaigns and issues mobilization. I am not sure what the member thought RPAC was for but RPAC stands for REALTOR® Political Action Committee. 30 cents of every RPAC dollar stays here locally at OKCMAR and can not be used for state or federal elections. What this means is that OKCMAR can not contribute to  our own member, Mike Thompson's campaign- we can only financially support campaigns on the local level. Last year OKCMAR donations went to a local REALTOR® running for school board, a local REALTOR® currently in office as OK County Treasurer, all 3 county commissioners, Mayor Mick Cornett and OK County Clerk. 35 cents goes to OAR to fund state candidates (like the governor) and .35 goes to NAR of which they will use some to fund federal campaigns, such as that as REALTOR® Mike Thompson running for US congress.

REALTORS® are 1.2 million as of last count. OKCMAR and its MLS are 4000 REALTORS®. There is no possible way that any candidate will be the 100% choice that all members want to support and agree with their politics. Please read about the goal of the REALTOR® Party, which is bi-partisan, at the REALTOR® Action Center. Sometimes the REALTORS®' RPAC contribution will go towards a candidate they personally do not approve of; however the candidates that NAR chooses to endorse and fund ALL are REALTOR®-friendly and are identified as espousing the value of home ownership & private property rights. NAR specifically endorses REALTOR® candidates because there is no one who can understand our industry and how important it is to the American society quite like another REALTOR® working the trenches- just like you. NAR is committed to supporting, with RPAC dollars, REALTOR® candidates. Learn more at the REALTOR® Action Center.

On a final note (and please dear readers forgive the soapbox) perhaps today, 1/3 of your RPAC investment went to a candidate you were passionately against for whatever reason, but realize that tomorrow, 1/3 of someone else's RPAC investment will go towards the person you strongly believe in but they do not. I am 100% confident that the National Association of REALTORS® [NAR] thoroughly investigates and analyzes every federal  candidate running for their alignment with the REALTOR® party and RPAC dollars are well spent. I know your OKCMAR legislative committee does and commits its share of the RPAC dollars to those local candidates who espouse the value of homeownership and private property rights. Also remember each and every one of us holds the ultimate power in that we have the freedom to vote- that is where individually we can make a difference.

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