Realtor chief: Shoe leather, relationships count more than big campaign dollars

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On Tuesday of this week, more than 2,500 Realtors bused in, drove, or flew into Austin, flooding  the Texas Capitol to meet their legislators and to push the  priorities for their industry such as property taxes, mortgage finance, and eminent domain.

“It went very, very well. It was massively successful,” said Texas Association of Realtors Chairman Vicki Fullerton. “It was beautiful, the weather was great. We couldn’t have had a better day.”

Realtors from around the state gathered at the Capitol April 4.

Just like the April 4 Realtor Day at the Texas Capitol, many industry groups coordinate their members and bus them to the legislature to spend a day pressing the flesh of their local lawmakers.

But the Realtors have something that many other industries don’t: A large checkbook.

The largest real estate groups in the state have given at least $6,956,604 to the current legislators, according to campaign data analyzed by The Texas Monitor. The Texas Association of Realtors campaign giving arm (TREPAC) has given more than 90-percent of that.

That makes the Realtors the second-largest single industry group in terms of campaign giving — right behind lawyers and lobbyists, according to Follow The Money, a website run by the nonprofit National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Indeed, Follow the Money show the real estate industry providing more campaign cash than the healthcare industry, insurance companies, or even the oil and gas industry.

When it came to real estate dollars, House Speaker Joe Straus was king, collecting $318,660 this past campaign season, records show. The second-biggest collector was Rep. Justin Holland, R-Rockwell, with more than $200,000. Holland is a long-time lobbyist and a freshman legislator.

Fullerton told the Texas Monitor that the sheer force of local Realtors volunteering to help elect supportive House and Senate members is more key than campaign donations.

“Contributions are great, but the boots on the ground is even greater,” Fullerton said. “People can make their contributions to legislators, either individually or collectively the way that we do it through TREPAC, but the legislators are selected and voted on by their constituents. Members of our association are the boots on the ground. They’re the ones that those legislators come to in their reelection campaigns to help door-knock, put signs up.”

That’s where getting to know — and supporting — local legislators helps the most, she said.

“They know that that we are the ones who can provide the man-hours and the organizational skills,” she said. “Those legislators who support private property rights, they are always going to get the support of our Realtor members.”

To see a list of the legislative priorities of the Texas Association of Realtors, click here.

A list of $10,000 and above in campaign contributions collected from the Texas Association of Realtors PAC, individual Realtors, and others in the real estate industry is below:

House Straus, Joe $318,660.64
House Holland, Justin $203,836.17
House Israel, Celia $197,258.25
House Geren, Charles $191,967.19
House Darby, Drew $142,240.28
House Villalba, Jason $140,576.12
House Anderson, Rodney $130,812.96
Senate Estes, Craig $130,121.71
Senate Hinojosa, Juan $117,584.72
Senate Watson, Kirk $110,000.00
Senate Hughes, Bryan $107,265.02
Senate Nelson, Jane $106,000.00
Senate Menendez, Jose $102,696.36
House Thompson, Senfronia $100,092.56
Senate Whitmire, John $100,000.00
House Burkett, Cindy $98,017.40
House Workman, Paul $95,177.76
Senate Taylor, Larry $86,223.90
Senate Hancock, Kelly $86,000.00
House Oliveira, Rene $85,504.25
Senate Zaffirini, Judith $82,500.00
Senate West, Royce $82,100.00
Senate Lucio Jr, Eddie $80,680.66
Senate Creighton, Brandon $77,500.00
House Pickett, Joe $77,500.00
Senate Uresti, Carlos $76,258.16
Senate Seliger, Kel $73,882.10
House Kuempel, John $73,656.74
House Hunter, Todd $69,051.37
Senate Nichols, Robert $68,500.00
House Cook, Byron $67,975.00
House Paddie, Chris $67,673.20
Senate Huffman, Joan $67,500.00
House Cyrier, John $63,156.21
House Murphy, Jim $62,667.79
House Faircloth, Wayne $61,840.37
House Bonnen, Dennis $56,000.00
House Burns, DeWayne $55,725.65
House Lozano, Jose $54,704.09
House Vo, Hubert $52,974.25
House Davis, Sarah $52,748.84
House Laubenberg, Jodie $52,550.00
House Alvarado, Carol $52,368.79
Senate Rodriguez, Jose $50,223.69
Senate Birdwell, Brian $50,000.00
Senate Schwertner, Charles $48,941.26
House Flynn, Dan $48,126.49
House Phillips, Larry $47,674.97
House Craddick, Tom $47,500.00
House Deshotel, Joseph $47,500.00
Senate Campbell, Donna $46,275.00
House Gonzales, Larry $41,132.69
House Wray, John $38,097.74
Senate Huffines, Donald $38,000.00
House Zedler, Bill $37,103.16
Senate Perry, Charles $34,000.00
House Clardy, Travis $33,529.09
House Ashby, Trenton $33,500.00
House Stucky, Lynn $33,267.09
House Button, Angie $32,304.70
House Parker, Tan $31,049.91
Senate Taylor, Van $31,000.00
House Gutierrez, Rolando $30,556.87
House Isaac, Jason $30,272.50
Senate Garcia, Sylvia $30,000.00
House Davis, Yvonne $30,000.00
House Koop, Linda $30,000.00
House Zerwas, John $30,000.00
House Raney, John $29,500.00
House Dukes, Dawnna $28,019.15
House Wu, Eugene $27,701.75
House King, Phil $27,500.00
House Turner, Chris $27,184.32
House Huberty, Dan $27,000.00
Senate Bettencourt, Paul $25,000.00
House Leach, Jeff $24,936.11
House Farrar, Jessica $23,566.90
House Simmons, Ron $23,000.00
House Larson, Lyle $22,518.42
House Bohac, Dwayne $22,014.68
House Guillen, Ryan $21,896.61
Senate Kolkhorst, Lois $21,653.70
House King, Tracy $21,560.64
House Herrero, Abel $21,275.00
House Gooden, Lance $20,825.00
House Price, Four $20,662.79
House Anchia, Rafael $20,000.00
House Dale, Tony $19,894.28
House Longoria, Oscar $18,578.37
House Capriglione, Giovanni $18,539.61
House Smithee, John $18,500.00
House Bailes, Ernest $18,325.00
House Morrison, Geanie $18,111.13
House Rodriguez, Eddie $18,000.00
House Gonzalez, Mary $17,781.56
House Bonnen, Greg $17,295.67
House Elkins, Gary $17,082.61
House Alonzo, Roberto $16,825.00
House Giddings, Helen $16,825.00
House Landgraf, Brooks $16,694.29
House Howard, Donna $16,233.74
House Kacal, Kyle $16,000.00
House Moody, Joe $16,000.00
House Martinez, Armando $15,961.62
House Frullo, John $15,582.52
House Dean, Jay $15,000.00
House Lucio III, Eddie $14,033.18
House Rodriguez, Justin $13,296.76
House Johnson, Eric $12,847.37
House Anderson, Charles $12,500.00
House Rose, Toni $12,325.00
House Dutton, Harold $12,000.00
House Collier, Nicole $11,575.68
House Allen, Alma $11,500.00
House King, Ken $11,024.40
House Springer, Drew $10,564.85
Senate Buckingham, Dawn $10,000.00
Senate Burton, Konni $10,000.00
Senate Hall, Robert $10,000.00

 

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

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