At current count, 101 Realtors have assembled to create what appears could be a fledgling political action committee (PAC) or special interest group in the early stages of formation. The group is acting as a counter group, citing Wisconsin Realtor Association’s (WRA) support of Wisconsin Governor Walker in December, as well as WRA’s support of Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in March.
According to their website, reprosforwi.org, the angry Realtors believe “We should shift away from candidate support to endorsing policy instead.” The anti-Walker bunch have also resorted to threats in their call for action. On March 26, 2011, Admin said on the site, “The WRA can avoid potential boycott actions like those taken against M&I bank by retracting their support of the Walker administration, and this current budget.”
Since the passage of the controversial bill limiting collective bargaining in the State of Wisconsin, there have been many threats just like these in cases where unions have allegedly threatened small business owners demanding they show support for unions and state workers by posting signs in their windows.
Real Estate Professionals for a Better Wisconsin
The self-proclaimed “progressive” Wisconsin group has named itself “Real Estate Professionals for a Better Wisconsin (REPBW),” representative of the minority electorate opposing Governor Walker. Walker was unanimously supported by the WRA board and WRA committees that decide endorsements of political platforms and their candidates, thus REPBW’s 101 members were not representative of the electorate at large.
WRA is Governor Walker’s third largest contributor, giving $43,125 dollars and the real estate industry as a whole represents his third largest industry contributor, giving over $341,000. Prior to being appointed to the Wisconsin court, Justice Prosser’s Congressional campaign’s top contributor from 1995 to 1998 when he was appointed to the court was the National Association of Realtors. It is unclear as to whether or not REPBW will threaten any other real estate entity that contributed to Walker’s or Prosser’s political coffers.
These fringe members are positioning the timeless tradition of Realtor PAC money at local, state and national levels as a Code of Ethics violation. RE/MAX Realtor David Kindschi said on the site in response to WRA support of Republican Governor Scott Walker, “as an Association we have chosen to violate our code of conduct and ethics, by not only choosing sides in political endorsements, but implying to the whole state that every Realtor is participating in this Political Indorsement [sic]. This is dishonest, unprofessional, and an insult to many of us in this organization.”
Two days prior to this statement, the site published an anti-Walker open letter, implying political endorsement of the anti-Walker voters.
Our sources note that WRA dues going toward politics are voluntary and that under 40% of members currently pay them. It appears that the organization is standing up against the budget issue, but the blog entries use wording that imply the fledgling group is against Republicans overall and don’t believe their Association should contribute to individual campaigns.
REPBW membership growing?
REPBW has no disclaimers on their site confirming or denying any PAC money, soft money, or individual financial support they may have solicited or may be receiving, nor affiliations to any parties, nor non-profit status, nor any other affiliations, and have not disclaimed what status (PAC, 501c4 or otherwise) they may be currently seeking for their .org website.
However, REPBW consists of Realtors campaigning for the site that are licensed with large franchises such as Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century21, Prudential and others, and without any legitimate disclaimers, this could present problems.
Although the organization is making waves in the form of noise, REPBW membership remains low with little growth, currently representing only 0.007% of the state’s licensed Realtors.
Calling for a boycott of 13,435 Realtors
What is confusing is the very thing they espouse to despise, they may themselves be guilty of. Their support of a political issue in one direction is fair, but a lack of support for a Supreme Court Justice over that issue as well as calling for a possible boycott of WRA (which is made up of 13,435 active Realtors with livelihoods and businesses) if they do not withdraw their December 2010 support of Walker sounds a lot like political bully tactics to drum up support for an opposing candidate to Governor Walker’s agenda in the future, thus appearing inherently political.
This issue comes on the heels of the announcement you heard on AGBeat first of the Realtor Party Political Survival Initiate (RPPSI) which if approved on May 14 will increase member dues by 50 percent. Realtors and Associations alike are still on the fence about how they feel about this issue, one local association executive cites dropping dues by $30 to help Realtors in a small rural economy only to have National dues double in order to support the political agenda of the Association of Realtors at large, which includes individual campaigns.
- The vote on the RPPSI is up for vote in May – Learn more
- Is your association running against your favorite candidate? – Learn more
- How much does NAR spend on individual political campaigns?
 “Admin” – the name used as the creator of the talking points. The domain owner is Michelle Yoo / Restaino & Associates Realtors