Waters Campaign Pays $30K More to Daughter, Ignores Other Debts

Maxine Waters chips away at debt owed to daughter as other obligations sat for years

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) / Getty Images
July 26, 2019

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) continues to push tens of thousands of dollars in campaign payments to her daughter for accrued debt even as much smaller campaign debts have remained untouched, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Rep. Waters has paid her daughter Karen more than $800,000 from her campaign committee to run a slate mailer operation since the mid-2000's. The endorsement mailers have proven lucrative for both Rep. Waters's federal committee and her daughter.

As of Oct. 17, 2018, Karen had collected $108,000 from the campaign to run the operation for the 2018 midterm cycle, with another $94,000 reported as being owed to her. However, Waters's post-general filings on Dec. 11 showed that the amount owed to Karen had increased by nearly $90,000 to $183,000. During the first quarter this year, Waters's campaign paid out $50,000 to Karen. Her committee's most recent filings show that throughout the second quarter another $30,000 was doled out, bringing the debt owed down to $108,000.

But as Waters quickly knocked off $80,000 in debt to her daughter this year, much smaller debts owed by the campaign have remained ignored.

The committee has maintained debts of $300 for a security guard and $600 for sound for a Christmas event; they first appeared on her post-general report from December and are still marked on her July quarterly report. A $503.45 catering obligation for a fundraising event also appears on both the year-end and July quarterly report.

An American Airlines travel expense of $719.60, incurred between April 1 and May 16, 2012, is shown on the campaign's most recent report. Additionally, the campaign marks $3,506.38 for various Congressional FCU Visa card purchases, an obligation that dates even further back and first appeared on her April 2008 quarterly report. The debts have remained despite Waters's campaign currently having $507,574. 82 cash on hand.

Waters's campaign treasurer did not respond to a request for comment on why the campaign has quickly paid out large sums owed to Karen Waters, while some other debts have remained unaddressed for years, by press time.

In 2004, the Federal Election Commission issued an advisory opinion that allowed Waters to run the slate mailer operation from her federal campaign committee. The operation was previously run from LA Vote, a state committee in California, where slate mailers are fairly common.

In order for a Democratic politician to appear on the endorsement mailer, which contain a quote of support from Waters and are sent out to more than 200,000 residents in South Central Los Angeles, they must make a payment to Rep. Waters's campaign committee from their own campaign committees or mark an in-kind contribution to their campaigns from Waters's committee.

Throughout the midterm elections, the operation pulled in more than $400,000 from other California candidates running for office, including $52,000 from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Other prominent California politicians have also paid to be included on the mailers. In 2010, when Kamala Harris was a San Francisco district attorney running for state attorney general, her campaign paid out a total of $33,000 to appear on the Waters mailers throughout the election cycle. When Harris ran for Senate during the 2016 election cycle, her campaign paid out another $30,000 to again appear on the mailers.