What’s the difference between hard dollars (RPAC) and soft dollars (CAP/PAF)?
Hard dollars are voluntary personal contributions and are the only type of funds that can be given directly to Federal candidates and National RPAC. Soft dollars are generally raised from organizations and corporations. Soft dollars can be directly given to state and local candidates in some states, and can be used to help pay for the costs incurred in administering and promoting RPAC and for certain grassroots political programs. There is no limit on the amount of soft dollars individuals or corporations may invest in the Corporate Ally Program or Political Advocacy Fund.
Can a local or state association advertise CAP/PAF events on social media or in a mass email to both members and the public?
Yes, associations may advertise CAP/PAF events to both NAR members and the public. CAP/PAF events are different than RPAC events due to nature of each entity. RPAC is the separate segregated fund of NAR and is registered with the Federal Election Committee as a multi-candidate political committee. As a result, RPAC must follow the Federal campaign finance laws which prohibit soliciting anyone other than REALTOR® members and certain staff of REALTOR® Associations and their families, and only accepting contributions from individuals, not corporations. On the other hand, the Corporate Ally Program and Political Advocacy Fund are not separate segregated accounts and are not required to register with or report to the Federal Election Commission so they do not need to comply with these limitations, and can solicit contributions from anyone.
Do CAP/PAF events require the use of a disclaimer?
No, unlike RPAC solicitations, there is no legally required disclaimer for CAP/PAF events. However, you may want to disclose that CAP/PAF investments are not tax deductible and reference the use of the contribution. For example: “Contributions to the NAR Political Advocacy Fund are not tax deductible. The Political Advocacy Fund is used for various Federal political purposes for which corporate funds may be used.”
May any company write a direct check to CAP/PAF out of their business account, so that the check counts towards the association’s fundraising goal?
Yes, CAP/PAF investments count toward association’s fundraising goals for receipts and Major Investors.
Can associations include non-REALTOR® sponsors for a CAP/PAF event?
Yes, non-REALTOR® sponsors may be used for CAP/PAF events, and their logos may be included on event materials. However, remember that this does not apply to RPAC events, where the Federal campaign finance rules require that sponsors for RPAC events be individual NAR members. Another point to remember is that a company’s sponsorship of an event, for example, paying for food and beverage or other costs of hosting the event, would not count toward the association’s fundraising goal since it would not be a direct contribution to CAP/PAF. However, a company’s contribution to CAP/PAF made in exchange for being listed as a host on an invitation would apply toward the association’s goal, since the PAF would receive those funds.
What mention can be made of RPAC on CAP/PAF event materials? For instance, may an association advertise a “REALTOR® Auction” and below include that the proceeds will count towards the winner’s individual and association’s RPAC fundraising goal or RPAC credit?
CAP/PAF event materials can mention RPAC only if they are distributed to or shared exclusively with REALTOR® members. This is because such promotion of RPAC is deemed a solicitation, and under Federal law only REALTOR® members can receive RPAC solicitations.
Can an association conduct an RPAC fundraising event where admission fees are contributions to RPAC, and other RPAC contributions are solicited and collected, and also conduct a CAP/PAF auction at the event?
Yes, this is allowable as long as only REALTOR® members are invited to and permitted to attend the event, since it is an RPAC fundraiser.
If an association has an RPAC auction, and has a big ticket item like a vacation rental, could that item be auctioned as a CAP/PAF item so that the value would not be considered in the fair-market total for purposes of calculating the 1/3rd Rule?
Yes, if there is no fee to enter the RPAC auction that is going to RPAC, and if the amount the individual pays for the auction item goes to CAP/PAF. Also, if you are planning to do an RPAC auction it is important to remember that only REALTOR® members can attend the event.