OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
It is not against the law for politicians to pay family members to work on their campaigns, but it does raise some eyebrows among voters.
It is something California Rep. Maxine Waters has been doing for a long time with her daughter, Fox News reported. Waters’ campaign paid her daughter $16,000 in four separate payments between July and September of this year. Karen Waters, whose company, Progressive Connections, has been organizing slate mailing operations for her 84-year-old mom’s campaigns and has made more than $1.2 million from Waters’ campaigns for around two decades.
A Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing this week by Citizens for Waters shows that Karen Waters received a total of $16,000 from the committee this quarter for “slate mailer management fees.” Slate-mailing is an uncommon practice in federal elections when a consulting firm is hired to create a pamphlet of sorts that contains a list of candidates or policy measures and advises voters on how to cast their ballots.
Waters, D-Calif., was reportedly the only federal politician to use a slate-mailer operation during the 2020 general election. Other members of the Waters family have also made off with donor cash over the course of the congresswoman’s decades-long career.
In 2004, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the Waters campaign had shelled out over $1 million to other family members over the previous eight years.
In September Republicans introduced legislation to stop this practice.
The Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act would bar any candidate running for federal office from compensating immediate family members for campaign services.
“It is currently legal for lawmakers to employ family members to work on campaigns. The legislation – first reviewed by The Post – would extend the ban to any political committee ‘established, maintained or controlled by a candidate or an individual holding Federal office’ – blocking any current lawmaker from compensating a family member for working on their campaign,” the report added.
“Fallon’s bill would also require campaigns to report any payments made to a candidate’s immediate family members. Relatives who fall under the proposed ban would include spouses, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and domestic partners as well as the spouses of campaign committee members. If the bill becomes law, any candidate who violates the ban would face a fine of either $100,000 for each violation or twice the amount paid to the family members — whichever is greater — and/or imprisonment for up to two years. The campaign committee would not be permitted to reimburse the candidate for any of the penalties,” the report continued.
“Maxine Waters [paid] $1.1 million to her daughter from campaign funds,” said Texas GOP Rep. Pat Fallon, who introduced the bill. “Ilhan Omar, $2.9 million to her husband from campaign funds. James Clyburn, over $200,000 to multiple family members from his campaign.”
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Fallon added. “Americans are sick of politicians abusing their voters’ hard-earned money. This modern-day spoils system must end. My bill shines light on shady campaign finance practices while punishing those who take advantage of these funds to enrich their families.”
Waters came under fire a few months ago for paying daughter another $24,000 in campaign cash during the most recent quarter.
“Karen Waters, who has been organizing slate-mailing operations to bolster her mother’s re-election for nearly two decades, and her company, Progressive Connections, have received more than $1.2 million since 2003 for campaign services, including ‘slate mailer management’ fees and ‘campaign managing services,’” Fox News reported.
“A Citizens for Waters campaign committee filing from earlier this week shows that the younger Waters received $24,000 from the committee between January and March 2022. Slate-mailing is an uncommon practice in federal elections, where a consulting firm is hired to create a pamphlet of sorts that contains a list of candidates or policy measures and advises voters on how to cast their ballots,” the report added.
“Rep. Waters was reportedly the only federal politician to use a slate-mailer operation during the 2020 general election,” the Fox News report continued. “While it’s legal for federal lawmakers to employ family members on campaigns, the practice is generally frowned upon by ethics experts.”