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New: What is the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, and What Are They Doing in Berkeley?

By Thomas Lord
Thursday November 01, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

The Moore (District 2) and Capitelli (District 5) campaigns for city council have received support, in the form of mailings and on-line advertising, from an independent expenditure committee known as CREIEC: The California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee. 

Who is that committee and why are they spending over $38,000 on behalf of these two Berkeley City Council candidates? 

CREIEC is controlled by the California Association of Realtors. It spends money on local and state issues and races in California. This year it has spent about $5 million dollars campaigning. 

CREIEC funds come mostly from outside sources but also from individual donations of California Association of Realtors. Contributions are solicited by the "Realtor Action Fund" ("RAF"), also operated by the California Association of Realtors. 

CREIEC major donors include the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors Fund (controlled by the National Association of Realtors), several large financial institutions, and most recently a large donation from the Democratic State Central Committee. 

When it comes to supporting local candidates, RAF has this to say about itself: 

"RAF supports and/or opposes candidates for elected office who understand, or don't understand, REALTOR® Issues. Given California’s ongoing state budget shortfall, 2012 will be another contentious year. Your support is needed to continue preserve C.A.R.’s ability to fight for you [California Association of Realtor members]!" 

The California Association of Realtors Executive Committee adopted, in 2008, its position on affordable housing. They define affordable housing as "affordable workforce housing" and, as Realtors, are concerned with "[creating] a path towards `affordable home ownership' for the workers of California." 

Accordingly, they oppose "restrictive regulatory policies, such as rent control" and favor policies such as "flexible zoning", "innovative local planning" [whatever that might mean], and "density bonuses".