IAR Political Advocacy Fund

Political Advocacy Fund Supports Local, State Association Politial Initiatives and Members

Independent Expenditures: Protecting Your Rights

IAR’s Political Advocacy Fund (PAF) supports local association political initiatives and the “Illinois Association of REALTORS® Fund,” an Independent Expenditure (IE) political committee to elect REALTORS® and REALTOR® Party Champions.

What is an “IE”? An Independent Expenditure (IE) occurs without knowledge or coordination with the candidate. IEs may include expenses for:

  • Polling (candidate/issues)
  • Data strategies
  • Robocalls and email
  • First and second direct mailers
  • Handouts
  • Radio advertisement
  • Social media / website
  • Get out the vote (GOTV)

Why the need for IEs? The campaign environment has changed. In 2010 the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Committee changed fundraising criteria and that led to the rise of Independent Expenditure (IE) efforts. It also changed the law in 23 states including Illinois.

IEs have no state or federal contribution limits. State Independent Expenditure Committee contribution limits are unlimited from any source at any time. (Source: State Board of Elections). Federal Independent-Expenditure only political committees (sometimes called “super PACs”) may accept unlimited contributions.

Now that unlimited dollars can be used when communicating with the public to influence voter opinions, competing in today’s new political landscape is more challenging – and expensive – than ever.

The National Association of REALTORS® IE Program for federal candidates was approved by the NAR Board of Directors in May 2011; the NAR state and local IE Program started in 2012. The Illinois Association of REALTORS® IE Program (Political Advocacy Fund) was approved by the IAR Board of Directors in January 2015.

Why the need for a REALTOR® IE program? The cost of campaigns has increased dramatically. Federal Congressional House races cost an average $360,000 in 1986; in 2012 $1.6 million (344% increase). U.S. Senate races $6.4 million in 1986, $11.5 million in 2012 (62% increase).

Why does IAR need an IE fund (PAF) in addition to the NAR IE fund? NAR’s IE allocation to Illinois is $4.73 per member; not enough to participate in campaigns for state senators, representatives and the large number of municipal elections (e.g., mayors, city council, county board).

In 2015, for example, the average cost of an IE ranged from $2,000 to $10,000 or more. IAR was involved in over 30 IEs.

Why focus local? Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the country at 6,963.

That’s 1,816 more than Texas, which is #2. And 5.4 units (municipal, township and county government) for every 10,000 residents. Add special districts (parks, library, mosquito abatement, etc.) and Illinois residents have on average 16 government agencies in the area.

Candidates elected at the local government level often move up to state office, then federal office.

If we can build allies and stop issues affecting real estate at the LOCAL level, we are better prepared to defend our issues at the STATE and FEDERAL levels. Plus, it costs less to make a difference in a local election.

It Takes Money to Make A Difference

Compare the Costs of Campaigns:

  • $2,000 - $10,000+: Average cost of an IAR Independent Expenditure (IE) for a LOCAL government candidate’s race in 2015
  • $2 million - $20 million+: Cost of a STATE Senate/House race
  • $1.6 million: Average cost of a FEDERAL House race (2012)
  • $11.5 million: Average cost of FEDERAL Senate race (2012)

How are IEs effective? Conducting an IE for a candidate has a wider impact than just winning a race. A REALTOR® IE demonstrates to candidates and the general public that REALTORS® have an important role on issues affecting the real estate business, buyers and sellers, and private property owners.

The PAF fund is one more step to not only participate at the local level but truly moves political advocacy to the local political area where all political activity begins.

How is the PAF funded? Starting with the 2016 dues billing cycle, $25 will be added to the RVOICE assessment to fund local and state Independent Expenditure (IE) campaigns as well as local association discretionary funding to support RPAC fundraising.

This assessment is split between local and state associations.

  • IAR uses include IEs, “soft dollars” to NAR and political costs
  • Local uses will be IEs and grants for “discretionary funds” to support RPAC fundraising.

Learn more: PAF Fund FAQs and White Paper

Sources: Opensecrets.org, Reboot Illinois, IlllinoisPolicy.org, Illinois Association of REALTORS®, elections.il.gov/, fec.gov


Contributions to RPAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary and are used for political purposes. The amounts indicated are merely guidelines and you may contribute more or less than the suggested amounts. The National Association of REALTORS® and its state and local associations will not favor or disadvantage any member because of the amount contributed or decision not to contribute. You may refuse to contribute without reprisal. Up to thirty percent (30%) may be sent to National RPAC to support federal candidates and is charged against your limits under 2 U.S.C. 441a. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website www.elections.il.gov or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.

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