A few days ago, the Scottsdale city clerk notified 2016 candidates that the National Association of Realtors out of Chicago had donated a staggering $72,000 to their favorites in our city election:
An Independent Expenditure Notification form has been filed with this office by the National Association of Realtors Fund. The notification reports independent expenditures in the total amount of $71,920.42 in support of candidates Jim Lane, Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte, and Dan Schweiker.
NAR is the same group that violated campaign finance laws in Scottsdale’s 2014 election, by spending $86,000 in support of adding to our massive municipal debt for make-work projects.
The local NAR affiliate Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors used to be pretty good about non-partisan voter education efforts, including one of the better candidate forums. However, SAAR was hijacked back in 2011 by cross-pollinators from the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, another group that has a long history of violating campaign finance law.
Rebecca Grossman was installed as the CEO of SAAR, leading the group’s turn away from its history of non-political community involvement and toward the Dark Side of dark-money dirty tricks.
As it turns out, Grossman is and has been very involved with NAR at the national level. A recent press release touts her as the incoming vice-chair of the NAR “executive committee.” Not being a corpocrat, I don’t know exactly what an “executive committee” does, but it sounds pretty important.
Grossman’s bio in the same presser includes:
…Rebecca is very involved in her community, serving as a Director of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce [ahem], a Director of the Perimeter Center Owners Association [principals Gary Case and Tim Huff, I’ll have to look for their names in the candidates’ campaign finance reports], a member of the Envision Scottsdale Community Group [Google never heard of this group…dark money?], and a volunteer at Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue Center.
I know almost nothing about Wild at Heart. It’s probably a worthy organization with a noble goal. But her involvement makes it all the more puzzling why Grossman would support the commercialization of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve…let alone promote it!
Seen here in a video that will probably disappear from YouTube pretty soon, Grossman chats with Christine Kovach and Sam Campana about the Desert Discovery Center:
Another pair of Grossman dichotomies can be found in a year-old interview by Lauren Gilger, this excerpt clearly advocating for more urban density. Grossman doesn’t use the “L” word–light rail–but “walkability” is usually a lead-in to that conversation.
As the Valley becomes more urban, walkability is the name of the game.
The Valley is definitely turning away from urban sprawl and toward urban centers, according to Grossman.
So, walkability is at the center of the conversation in development right now. They’re focused on connecting communities to shopping and restaurants, she said.
“I think it has a lot to do with our awareness of the sustainability of continuing to just grow out and out and out,” she said. “Eventually, we have to bring people closer in so that we’re not using as many resources.”
But, in order to do that, we need rental and buying options in urban hubs, Grossman said.
It will be hard to get some cities to recognize that bringing people into the center permanently is important and will take work. “That’s going to take infill projects; that’s going to take redevelopment projects; it’s going to take a lot of zoning changes,” she said.
You’ll notice that in addition to the last paragraph, I highlighted in the paragraph before that “…we need rental…” All of the NAR-supported city candidates voted to approve the 10,000-odd apartments under construction or recently completed in the downtown Scottsdale area.
Strange that an organization supposedly formed to support its Realtor members would advocate for rental housing from which Realtors get no commission, and which through over-supply of housing stock drives down the property values (and thus Realtor commissions) for owner-occupied homes.
I suspect that NAR has been used by Grossman to launder money from local supporters of Jim Lane, Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte, and Dan Schweiker. In fact, NAR’s own IRS Form 990 says:
“Member dues earmarked for a separate segregated fund…detailed description of direct and indirect political campaign activities is not applicable.”
In other words, “dark money.”
This sounds a lot like what the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce did in 2008 when they violated campaign finance laws in supporting local candidates. I think they called it “enhanced dues” or some such nonsense.