FPC Do’s & Don’ts
Questions? Contact Victoria Givens at 202-383-1021.
Before the Meeting
- Prepare by reading up on your Member of Congress on their website.
- Learn your Members’ committee assignments, where their specialties lie, as well as their personal interests.
- Plan your strategy ahead of time. Decide who will lead the meeting if multiple REALTORS® are attending and what talking points each person will cover.
- Choose talking points. Create a list of 3 to 5 important issues you want to cover and use real examples to communicate your point.
- Organize by making sure you know where the meeting is taking place and at what time. Arrive on time, be polite and well dressed.
- Touch base with your NAR Lobbyist before the meeting so they can provide any insight on the Member’s position on the issue.
During the Meeting
- Be sensitive to the amount of time allotted to you. Ask up front and if you get 15-20 minutes with your MOC (or staff ) that’s great!
- Present the need for what you’re asking the Member of Congress to do. Use data or cases you know.
- Present your business card up front.
- Relate situations in his/her home state or district.
- Ask the Representative’s or Senator’s position and why.
- Show openness to and knowledge of counterarguments and respond to them cordially.
- Admit what you don’t know. Offer to try to find out the answer and send information back to the office.
- Spend more time with Members who may not have embraced the NAR position on an issue. You can lessen the intensity of the opposition and perhaps change it.
End of the Meeting
- Get the name and business card of any staff person who sits in on the meeting. This will help you should you need to follow up after the meeting.
- Give the Member and staff any handouts you have on your talking points.
- Thank the office for any support the Member has given on our issues.
After the Meeting
- Write a thank you e-mail to the staff with whom you met and offer to be of any assistance on real estate issues in the future.
- Follow through on any promises you made to the Member or staff.
- File a Field Report.
- Send the Member of Congress a note of support when they do or say something that is helpful to NAR. This is especially important if the Member was not initially supportive of an issue and worked with us even if it was unpopular.
- Don’t fail to show up for your scheduled meeting. Call if you are running late.
- Don’t discount Congressional staff. Many Congressional staffers look (and are) young. However, do not assume that such a staffer does not have significant responsibility and the ear of his or her Member. In many offices, the staffer you are meeting with will prepare a summary memo for the Member that carries extreme influence and power.
- Don’t overload a Congressional visit with too many issues.
- Don’t confront, threaten, pressure or beg.
- Don’t be argumentative. Speak with calmness and commitment so as not to put him/her on the defensive.
- Don’t overstate the case. Members are very busy and you are apt to lose their attention if you are too wordy.
- Don’t expect Members of Congress to be specialists. Their schedules and workloads tend to make them generalists.
- Don’t be put off by smokescreens or long-winded answers. Bring the Members back to the point. Maintain control of the meetings.
- Don’t make promises you can’t deliver.
- Don’t be afraid to take a stand on the issues.
- Don’t shy away from meetings with legislators with known views opposite your own.
- Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Offer to follow up with them after the meeting when you can obtain the correct information.
- When meeting in Washington, D.C. don’t be offended if you are asked to meet in a hallway or tight space. Capitol Hill is a busy place with limited real estate. Where you meet does not matter, but what is said and how you conduct yourself does.
Do’s and Don’ts of Delivering an RPAC Check
RPAC serves as a critical FPC resource to support pro-REALTOR® candidates in their election efforts. In the 2014 elections, RPAC was the largest association PAC in the nation, with direct contributions totaling more than $4.5 million. RPAC allocates certain funds for FPCs to use each cycle, including “In-State” funds and “Special Recognition Funds.” The following is a reminder of the importance of delivering your RPAC checks and the rules surrounding the gesture. Do not put yourself at risk or embarrass the lawmaker or his/her staff by forgetting these important guidelines.
- $1,000 for each FPC for a Congressional two-year election cycle and
- $2,000 for each FPC for a Senate six-year election cycle.
In-State Funds are funds that can be used to attend in-district receptions or events for Members of Congress to support their re-election efforts.
Special Recognition Funds
Before each election, your state association’s RPAC trustees will meet to consider additional support for your member of Congress based upon their voting record on REALTOR® Party issues. Once the NAR trustees approve your state’s request, your state association will receive a special recognition check for you to deliver for your member’s re-election.
- Deliver your RPAC check in-person.
- Meet your Member of Congress at a non-government location like a coffee shop, your office or their campaign headquarters. NEVER deliver a check at his/her office or on any other government property.
- Deliver the RPAC check within 15 days of receiving it from NAR.
- Contact your state association if you cannot deliver the check to the candidate, so another REALTOR® representative may be appointed to deliver it.
- Praise the Member of Congress for his/her work in the district and for supportive actions he or she has already taken to further REALTOR® Party issues.
- It is important to only comment on action they have taken IN THE PAST and not on any legislation currently in play.
- Even better is to avoid discussing specific legislation at all while presenting a check.
- Keep close track of all RPAC checks. If for some reason the check is lost, please report it to your NAR Political Representative IMMEDIATELY so that it can be cancelled and re-cut.
- Never deliver an RPAC check in a government office OR on government property. It is ILLEGAL! This includes everything from federal office buildings to federal parks and preserves to all other types of federal facilities.
- Note: Even presenting the check in the parking lot can still be considered government property and it may be unlawful. DO NOT DO IT.
- Never make any political “ask” of your Member of Congress while presenting your RPAC check.
- For example, DO NOT say, “please vote for this bill.” Again, it is ILLEGAL to solicit a legislative vote in exchange for a contribution.
- Don’t wait until just before the election to deliver the check, as it is then of limited use to the candidate. If the candidate is facing a difficult election, you may have trouble scheduling a meeting. Don’t keep waiting, instead deliver the check to the campaign manager, district director or other senior advisor with the promise of a meeting with the candidate after the election.
- Never deliver an RPAC check after the election day (Primary and General) for which the check is designated. After Election Day, it is legally too late to contribute and RPAC has missed the opportunity to demonstrate our support.
- Don’t mail a check unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Please deliver all checks in-person if possible.