Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) paid $50,000 from her campaign's coffers to her daughter in recent months to chip away at six figures of accrued debt for an operation that pulls in large sums of money for the congresswoman's campaign committee, Federal Election Commission filings show.
Rep. Waters's committee disbursed two payments to her daughter, Karen, in the amounts of $42,000 and $8,000 during the first quarter, which runs from Jan. 1 to March 31. The $50,000 in payments were made to Karen for running a slate mailer, or endorsement mailer, operation from the campaign and were the most paid out by the committee for any activity throughout the first three months of the year.
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Waters's campaign committee reported $94,000 of debts owed to her daughter in pre-general midterm election filings submitted to the FEC on Oct. 17, 2018. However, this amount shot up $90,000 in a matter of weeks to $183,022.15, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported.
Now, Waters's campaign reports $182,383 in total debts and obligations after the first quarter and following the recent $50,000 in payments. An overwhelming majority of this amount—$133,022.15—is marked as debt still owed to Karen, who already directly pocketed $108,000 from the campaign during the midterm elections.
The slate mailers are sent out to South Central Los Angeles residents and contain a sample ballot and quote from Waters in support of other California Democratic politicians. The candidates pay hefty sums—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars each—to Waters's campaign from their own committees to be included on the mailers.
The operation brought in $400,000 from candidates running for office during the midterm election cycle, including $52,000 from now-governor Gavin Newsom. Waters's campaign received more than 20 separate checks of $10,000 or more from other committees this past cycle.
Critics have filed complaints to the FEC against the Democratic congresswomen over the practice which has netted her daughter lucrative cash. The FEC issued an advisory opinion in 2004 allowing Waters to run the operation from her federal campaign committee. Prior to this, the mailers were operated out of a California committee called LA Vote.
The use of slate mailers, which are a common practice in states such as California and Oregon, have come under heavy scrutiny. Waters appears to be the only federal candidate to run a slate mailer operation from a federal committee, according to a search of the FEC's database.
Waters's campaign could not be reached for comment on the payments.