'Resistance Hero' Maxine Waters Pulls in Only $22K in Individual Contributions

Waters owes daughter $100k for running endorsement mailer operation

Rep. Maxine Waters / Getty Images
July 17, 2017

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), who has been considered a leader of the movement within Congress to "resist" Donald Trump, has received a little more than $20,000 in individual contributions to her campaign so far this year despite her elevated profile.

Waters is also $100,000 in debt to her daughter, who runs a lucrative endorsement mailer operation for the campaign, filings show.

Citizens for Waters, Rep. Waters' campaign committee, reported receiving just $12,600 individual contributions throughout the second quarter, which runs between April 1 and June 30. During the first quarter, which spans from Jan. 1 to March 31, the campaign reported $9,508.79 in individual contributions. Waters has now pulled in just $22,108.79 in total individual contributions.

The campaign has compensated for the low amount of individual contributions by pulling in six figures from political action committees. The campaign reported $2,500 from PACs during the first quarter and $99,500 during the second quarter.

Rep. Waters' campaign now has $193,714.02 cash on hand and debts totaling $128,748.12. A majority of the debt is owed to Karen Waters, the daughter of Maxine Waters.

Karen is in charge of the campaign's "slate mailer," or endorsement mailer, operation that has proved lucrative for the campaign by raising hundreds of thousands in donations from other candidates' committees in exchange for placement on a mailer sent out to constituents in California.

A candidate pays Citizens for Waters from their own campaign committee to appear on the endorsement mailer. If a candidate does not directly pay Citizens for Waters, they must mark an in-kind contribution on their own committees from the Waters campaign.

The mailer is then sent out to more than 200,000 people in south central Los Angeles, where Waters holds considerable sway. It contains an "official sample ballot" and quotes from Waters about the candidates and measures that she supports.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), another politician who has put herself on the "resistance" front lines and who is thought to be possibly angling to run for president in 2020, has given the Waters campaign $63,000 to twice appear on her endorsement mailer in the past.

Karen Waters pulled in more than $650,000 from her mother's campaign since first running the operation. At the end of the first quarter, the Waters campaign marked a $108,000 debt to Karen for her services.

Karen was paid $8,500 of that debt in the past three months and is still owed $99,000 from the campaign, according to the most recent filings.

Throughout the 2016 election cycle, Waters pulled in more than $300,000 from the operation. Slate mailers, which are common in California, have come under heavy scrutiny in the past.

Waters' office did not return a request for comment by press time.