In 1993, the National Multi Housing Council's (NMHC) political action committee (PAC) collected barely $10,000—hardly enough to make any kind of mark on the political landscape. After an organizational initiative to reach a donation level of $100,000 by the late '90s, the association is now pushing $400,000 for this election year. So far, it has contributed $222,808 in 2008 to political candidates.

Although these numbers pale in comparison to those of larger PACs, such as the National Association of Realtors (which spent $2.2 million so far in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Jim Arbury, senior vice president of government affairs for NMHC, thinks it's necessary to supplement his lobbying team with donation money. “It's part of being in the game,” he says.

To keep issues such as tax code changes at the forefront of policymakers' minds, Arbury targets certain House committees with donations, including Ways and Means, Banking, Financial Services, and Judiciary. The PAC contributes to both Democrats and Republicans, with the largest donations this year going to Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), $8,000; Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.), $5,000; Susan Collins (R-Maine), $5,500; and Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), $4,500. “You usually try to tip the scale to the party in power,” Arbury says.