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.”
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.”
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:
|Senate||Lucio Jr, Eddie||$80,680.66|
|House||Lucio III, Eddie||$14,033.18|
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.