Real Estate & Politics – HAR President’s Message

President’s message for July 2010

Returning back from the California Association of Realtors (CAR) on Saturday June 12, I couldn’t wait to hit my garden and pick some fresh veggies. I picked some chard, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and caught a big Tilapia out of the pond and headed home for dinner. Unfortunately, nobody was home except Brianna. Laura, my wife was off care taking her mother from surgery and my youngest Chloe was off to Camp Imua to run the horse riding for the camp. Dinner was great, but I was beat and trying to shift my clock back to Maui time again. We had some great food and incredible hosting by the California leadership, but home grown is always “ mo betta “

Berton Hamamoto, Judy Kalbrener, Nancy Donahue-Jones and I spent 4 days with about 3000 California members, directors, and executive officers during their mid year legislative meetings in Sacramento. California does it all super sized. They have an executive committee of around 30 members (we have 6), they have hundreds of directors (we have around 20), and they have a small committee and a designated person for every legislator in the state. Their legislative day looks a lot like NAR’s visit to Washington DC in May. With a large legislative staff, they are able to get in to every nook and cranny in Sacramento.

Super sizing comes at a cost though. Their budget for their legislative program is huge and effective. This year, leadership pushed through a dues increase of $49 totally dedicated towards their legislative and PAC programs. This can be offset by a voluntary contribution to their PACs, but the intention is still to influence legislation.

Why is this happening and could it also happen in Hawaii?  To answer the first question, we have to look at the recent US Supreme Court decision that over-ruled lower courts by allowing essentially unlimited funds to be directed towards any candidate’s campaign. Direct candidate contributions are still limited, but now, corporations, individuals and other entities may contribute unlimited amounts of money in “independent expenditures” towards the election of a candidate (or a smear of the candidate’s opponent). California’s leadership either sees an opportunity to help elect REALTOR friendly candidates or they just understand the need to have a larger war chest now that the bar has been raised.

Could this happen in Hawaii?

Hawaii has elections with a lot of money involved in the campaigns. It makes sense that special interest groups such as unions, banks, chambers of commerce, and yes, Realtors Associations, will want to influence these elections. Does this mean our HAR dues are going to go up to fund our PAC as well? The answer to that question depends on how well funded groups are that oppose the Realtor candidates and Realtor issues. Money drives politics. Now more money will drive more politics. Usually, more money wins elections. If we want to stay in the game and promote the interests of our business, we will need more money in the future.

Look at this issue as an opportunity. Join the Realtor Party right now, with a solid donation to RPAC. RPAC is a non partisan PAC that supports candidates who support Realtor issues. This is political and practical survival. Don’t look around for others to contribute while you wait on the sidelines, otherwise you may be faced with the same situation as just happened in California. Not enough members were contributing to their PAC (only 20%), and the other 80% took advantage of the benefits. The California leadership did not think it was fair to have 20% pay for the other 80%. Do you?

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