The Prince George's County Board of Realtors has received Federal Election Commission approval to solicit contributions on its members' monthly dues statements for its Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC).
When the 3,000 members of the Prince George's County board open their statements next month, they will find included in the total a dun for a voluntary, $25 contribution to the RPAC. All money collected will be pooled with contributions from other local county boards and then sent on to the national RPAC office in Washington.
Of each dollar contributed, the national PAC keeps 40 cents and returns 60 cents to the state PAC's trustees. They in turn disburse 10 cents of that remaining total to local candidates recommended by the local real estate boards and the remainder to statewide campaigns.
Last year the Prince George's County board collected $15,640 from Oct. 1, 1981 to Sept. 30, 1982, roughly $5.21 per member.
Paul Fowler, executive vice president of the Prince George's County Board of Realtors said he hopes the total will increase, but he added that the goal of the request on the statement is to reduce the amount of time volunteers spend contacting individual members for contributions.
Although mail solicitation on monthly statements is a fairly common practice for PACs, it is unusual for a local board to seek a Federal Election Commission advisory on the subject. Fowler said the board "felt the need to be more specific" on this issue because the law does "not state what was specific with regard to our board."
Joseph Hayden, executive director for public affairs of the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors, said that his organization collected $35,000 from its 8,000 members from August 1981 to August 1982, for an average of $4.37. "We shoot for about $10 per member," he said.
Current federal regulations prohibit direct corporate campaign contributions. So, to comply with FEC regulations, the Prince George's board said it will establish two special trust accounts. Into one will go corporate contributions for use in state and local elections, and into the other individual contributions to be used on the federal level.
For federal elections, however, corporations can create what is called a "connected political action committee," like the Realtors', which can solicit funds only from the members of its parent organization. Its contributions are limited to $5,000 per candidate per election. Individuals are limited to $1,000 contributions per candidate per election.
Fowler said that after obtaining this advisory "there is no longer any doubt in our minds that we are in accord with the Federal Election Commission regulations."
FEC spokesman Fred S. Eiland said the ruling was a precautionary move on the Realtors' part. He said that they can now be sure that "somewhere down the road they will not get caught up in an enforcement action."