Durham City Council candidates Pam Karriker and Omar Beasley are receiving support from a Greensboro political action committee, the North Carolina Homeowners Alliance, which is part of the politically powerful N.C. Association of Realtors.
The alliance is a 527 committee, which has no limits on the amount it can raise or spend, according to the Internal Revenue Service. 527s do have to publicly disclose their donors and file contribution and expenditure reports.
Flyers paid for by the group are being mailed to Durham residences this election season. However, the mailers clearly state that they are not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Karriker, a former mortgage loan supervisor, is challenging Don Moffitt in Ward 3. She says she was not contacted about the mailer, but appreciates the alliance's support.
Beasley, a bailbondman running for the Ward 2 seat against Eddie Davis, says he knew nothing about the mailers until someone texted him a photo of one. Nor is he familiar with the alliance, he says.
The alliance is an arm of the N.C. Association of Realtors, whose PAC has poured millions of dollars into local and state political campaigns over the past several years.
The Realtors PAC spent $2.7 million during the 2007 and 2008 campaign seasons to defeat a referendum on the land-transfer tax in 16 counties. During the land-transfer tax saga, the Realtors PAC gave the alliance $910,000 for an anti-tax mailer and ad campaign, according to WNCN.
According to 2011 federal tax returns, the N.C. Realtors PAC gave the alliance more than $223,000 that fiscal year. Some of that money came from a mandatory fee assessed by the association on its Realtor members.
The board of directors of the alliance is composed of people from throughout the state, including Durham resident Lew Myers, an architect with the Freelon Group. Calls to Myers and to Tommy Lawing Jr., the president of the board and a Realtor in Charlotte, were not returned.