Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, one of the most outspoken members of the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ in Congress, is facing fresh questions about a longstanding controversy regarding how her campaign raises money and how those funds have flowed to her daughter.
The California congresswoman has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars each election cycle from some of her state’s biggest politicians paying to be listed on her slate mailers—sample ballots traditionally mailed out to about 200,000 voters in Los Angeles highlighting whom she supports.
Since 2004, the campaign in turn reportedly has paid $750,000 to the congresswoman’s daughter, Karen Waters, or her public relations firm Progressive Connections for help producing them.
A government watchdog in July filed the first of two complaints with the Federal Election Commission asking for a full audit of the Citizens for Waters campaign.
The first complaint alleges Waters broke federal campaign finance law and also names the California Democratic State Central Committee and Sen. Kamala Harris, a likely 2020 Democratic presidential contender.
The conservative National Legal and Policy Center is still drafting a second broader complaint focusing on the sources of money going to the Waters campaign and flowing to her daughter—and the accuracy of campaign finance reports said Tom Anderson, director of the group’s government integrity project.
Rep. Waters, first elected in 1990, has been in the headlines lately for her calls to impeach President Trump and statements urging public confrontations with his Cabinet officials.
Well before her current political fame, though, she mastered this somewhat-rare form of fundraising in slate mailers. California’s top politicians, as well as local office-seekers, have given far in excess of legal contribution limits to her campaign to be on her slate of endorsed candidates. The campaign then pays Karen Waters and other firms to produce, print and mail the sample ballots. The FEC approved the practice by Waters in 2004.
“Maxine Waters found an old provision and turned it into a cottage industry,” Anderson told Fox News.
However, the FEC complaint filed last year on July 25 states that the California Democratic party paid $35,000 to the Waters campaign in 2016 to include the endorsement of Harris’ Senate candidacy on the mailer. The FEC complaint, which cited an October campaign finance report, contends a third party is not legally allowed to pay for the mailer of a candidate without a reimbursement under the 2004 FEC advisory opinion.