Congressman Gary Miller

Alexandra Duszak, The Center for Public Integrity
Created: 05/23/2012 06:38:11 PM PDT

It’s challenging enough to knock off an entrenched member of Congress in a primary contest. But state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, probably didn’t count on the fact that he would also be picking a fight with nearly a million Realtors.

Dutton is running against a fellow Republican, Rep. Gary Miller, a 14-year incumbent, and four Democrats in the newly redrawn 31st Congressional District in the June 5 primary. If no one receives a majority of votes, the top two finishers – no matter what party – will face off in November.

The National Association of Realtors political action committee and a super PAC funded by the trade association have spent more than $709,000 on advertising and direct mail supporting Miller, R-Brea.

“The amount of money being funneled into this primary from Washington, D.C., special interests on behalf of Miller is mind-boggling,” said Clint Lorimore, Dutton’s campaign manager, in an email.

Actually, the super PAC is based in Chicago, as is the trade association. But the NAR has an office in the capital and plenty of money to spend on Washington politics. The association spent more than $22 million on lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The NAR is also the sole funder of the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund, a super PAC, which has spent about $313,000 on independent expenditures in the race with the regular PAC making up the balance.

Super PACs, made possible by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose the candidate of their choice as long as they do not coordinate their activities with the campaign.

Miller sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the real estate and insurance industries, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is also the founder of G. Miller Development, a home building and development company.

The NAR’s employees and regulated PAC have contributed $68,019 to Miller over the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Only the National Association of Homebuilders has given more.

That number may seem small, but contributions to federal candidates from political action committees that support multiple candidates are capped at $5,000 per election.

“It’s fairly clear that they’re \ going to have a level of access to him that the ordinary American doesn’t have,” said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation.

Phone calls and emails requesting comment from Miller’s offices in Washington, D.C., were not returned.

Scott Reiter, the managing director of the Realtor association’s regular political action committee, doesn’t see a problem with the super PAC’s pro-Miller expenditure.

To read entire story, click here.