A look at the industry’s biggest trade groups and influence peddlers, who are descending on Washington with everything from tax reform to infrastructure to affordable housing on their agendas
(Illustration by Dante Terzigni)
In the fall of 1991, a brash New York developer testified at a Congressional budget hearing, telling committee members that nobody he knew could get a loan and complaining that the real estate industry’s muscle in Washington was weak.
“They have absolutely the most pathetic lobby in the history of the United States Congress,” a then-bankrupt Donald Trump said during the hearing, which was focused on how to help the U.S. economy recover amid a deep recession.
“It’s a shame,” he said, “that this very powerful and important industry doesn’t have a better lobby.”
Today, of course, Trump is the primary resident of the White House, and rather than relying on lobbyists to push his agenda, he is the target of their influence peddling.
The real estate lobby has grown massively since the day Trump testified in front of that House of Representatives committee.
In 2016, the industry pumped nearly $104 million into federal lobbying — more than the securities and investment industry, which includes the bulk of Wall Street interests apart from the major banks. The industry’s biggest spender — the National Association of Realtors — was second only to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in total spending by any company or group from any industry between 1998 and 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money and lobbying in politics. NAR, which has 1.1 million members, spent a massive $416 million on its reported lobbying during that time. By comparison, the megafirm General Electric shelled out $345 million, the defense contractor Northrop Grumman dropped $243.4 million, and Boeing and Exxon Mobil ponied up $242.9 million and $232.2 million, respectively.
Despite NAR’s might, the real estate industry still doesn’t have the same kind of presence in Washington as other major industries — like big oil, telecom and health care. But sources say that’s largely because real estate is less consolidated, with stakeholders ranging from residential developers to commercial landlords to mortgage players to the big banks, among others.
(Click to enlarge)
Real estate did not make the Center for Responsive Politics’s Top 10 list for lobbying dollars spent between 1998 through 2016. But its spending is on the rise. The $104 million it spent in 2016 was a record, up 26 percent from a decade earlier.
“While overall lobbying has been declining, real estate for whatever reason has kind of been increasing since they recovered f上海千花网交友