Realtors' top lobbyist stepping down

Realtors' top lobbyist stepping down
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The longtime top lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors is stepping down at the end of 2018, the group announced Wednesday.

Jerry Giovaniello originally joined the Realtors from Capitol Hill in 1981 and became its top advocate in 2001.

“Giovaniello has developed long-standing relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle and a reputation for ensuring Realtors' voices are heard on important policy issues,” the group said in its release.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has 1.3 million members, making it the largest trade group in the United States.

In 2011, it sailed into the top ranks of lobbying spenders, behind the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and General Electric. In every year after that, it has maintained the No. 2 spot behind the Chamber, spending more than $54 million last year.

“Jerry has had a distinguished nearly four-decade career at NAR, protecting the interests of Realtors, the real estate industry, and current and future property owners. NAR's advocacy efforts have greatly expanded and grown in influence in recent decades, and Jerry has contributed greatly to those efforts," Bob Goldberg, chief executive of the National Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “On behalf of NAR's leadership, staff, and a million-plus members, I thank Jerry for his dedication and hard work, which will have a lasting and meaningful impact, and I congratulate him on his retirement."

Giovaniello will stay on until the group finds his replacement, “[w]ith so much going on in Washington that bears significant weight on the real estate industry,” and help with the transition. His successor should be in place before the end of the year, according to the announcement.

The group touted Giovaniello's successes in the job atop the Realtors’ lobby shop, including fighting legislative proposals in the 1990s calling for a flat tax and, following the financial collapse in 2008, pushing lawmakers to enact a tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

“His leadership helped secure the continuation of the National Flood Insurance Program, and most recently he successfully led efforts to persuade policymakers against slashing homeowner tax benefits, like the mortgage interest and property tax deductions,” the Realtors said.