Maxine Waters Hit with FEC Complaint for Lucrative Campaign Operation That Pays Daughter

Karen Waters, Maxine's Daughter, has collected more than $750,000 for operating the slate mailers

Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters / Getty Images
August 2, 2018

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) is the subject of a complaint filed to the Federal Election Commission for a campaign operation that has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to her daughter, according to reports.

Waters runs a slate mailer, or endorsement mailer, operation through Citizens for Waters, her campaign committee, and has done so for years. The operation has proved lucrative to both the campaign's coffers and to Karen Waters, Maxine's daughter.

Karen has collected more than $750,000 in payments for running the operation, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported. The slate mailers also pull in lucrative cash for the Waters campaign. In order to appear on the mailer, a politician must make a donation to the committee.

The mailers are sent to more than 200,000 residents in South Central Los Angeles, where Waters holds considerable clout. A list of candidates "endorsed" by Waters appear on the mailer along with brief quotes.

During the most recent election cycle, a handful of judicial candidates in California have combined to pay the campaign tens of thousands of dollars for a spot on the mailer.

Prominent California politicians have also paid to appear on the mailers in the past.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has twice paid to appear on the endorsement mailers and has paid out over $63,000 to the Waters campaign, the Free Beacon previously reported.

The first time Harris appeared on the mailers was when she was serving as San Francisco district attorney and running for attorney general in the state. Harris again paid Waters during her U.S. Senate run in 2016 for a place on the mailers.

Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor of California, who is running for governor in the state, paid the Waters campaign $45,000 for his "share" of slate mailers in 2010 as he was running for his current position. Newsom paid $27,000 this election cycle.

Sen. Barbara Boxer also paid the Waters campaign $5,000 in 2010 and an additional $27,000 this cycle.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog, has now filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Waters broke federal campaign finance law, Fox News reports. The complaint also lists the California Democratic State Central Committee and Sen. Kamala Harris alongside Waters.

"Maxine Waters found an old provision and turned it into a cottage industry," Tom Anderson, director of the policy center's government integrity project, told Fox News.

The group is reportedly drafting another more encompassing complaint that will center around the money going to the Waters campaign and subsequent payments to Karen Waters.

In 2004, Waters asked the FEC to issue an advisory opinion on whether she could run the operation from her federal campaign, which was approved. The endorsement mailer operation was previously run from LA Vote, a state committee.

Slate mailers are fairly common in states such as California and Oregon, but have come under heavy scrutiny as being deceptive practices.

Waters appears to be the only candidate on the federal level who implements a slate mailer operation.

Published under: Maxine Waters