Holland & Knight this week told Congress it is lobbying on behalf of the premier trade group for real estate agents.
The National Association of Realtors hired the firm to lobby on the "[e]stablishment of commemorative work recognizing the importance of fair housing," according to a lobbying registration filing. Joel Roberson, a Holland associate, is the lobbyist on the account.
Roberson referred inquiries to the Realtors organization. Sara Wiskerchen, a spokeswoman for the organization, said the firm helped draft a bill to create a monument in recognition of fair housing and will work to secure congressional approval of the measure.
A monument “would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to civil rights and making homeownership viable for all Americans,” Wiskerchen wrote in an e-mail. But the organization doesn't have any plans yet for the location or design of the monument, she said.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) in 2009 introduced legislation that would have allowed the Realtors association’s Fair Housing Commemorative Foundation to erect a monument in Washington to commemorate the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which bans housing discrimination. But the House didn’t vote on the measure.
In testimony prepared for a 2010 House hearing on the bill, Norton said the legislation was “the first time that a sector of our economy has decided to honor the statute that regulates some of its practices.”
"Considering the history of discrimination that led to this civil rights landmark, it is particularly fitting that we commemorate the Fair Housing Act with a monument in Washington that speaks to the progress that has been made and the distance yet to go," Norton said.
The Realtors association spent $10.1 million on its federal lobbying during the first half of this year, according to congressional records. The organization, which has more than 1 million members, lobbied during that period on a wide array of issues, including matters related to flood insurance, Internet broadband expansion and housing loans.