By Katabella Roberts
The reelection campaign of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) paid out over $16,000 to Waters’s daughter in the second quarter of 2022, adding to the more than $1.2 million the congresswoman’s daughter has received from her mother’s campaigns since 2003.
According to campaign finance filings at the Federal Election Commission, Waters paid $16,500 to Karen Waters in June for work on the lawmaker’s reelection campaign. Filings indicate the payments were for “slate mailer management fees.”
Karen Waters runs Progressive Connections, Fox News reported, and has been organizing slate-mailing operations to bolster her mother’s reelection campaigns over the past two decades.
Little is known about the company, which does not appear to have an official website, and no mention of it is made on Karen Waters’s LinkedIn profile.
The Epoch Times has contacted Rep. Waters’s office for comment.
Slate-mailing is an age-old election practice in California but is generally uncommon across most other states.
A slate card, also known as a slate mailer or voter guide, usually lists candidates who are running for office within a voter’s area along with the policy measures they support or oppose.
They also inform voters how to cast their ballots. A consulting firm is usually hired to create such a pamphlet or guide.
Rep. Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, was the only federal politician to use a slate-mailer operation during the 2020 general election, according to Fox News.
But the congresswoman is not the only lawmaker who has paid relatives with campaign contributions over the years.
In 2020, OpenSecrets found that at least 14 then-members of Congress had disbursed more than $15,000 each in wages to family members from their reelection committees, including Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Conor Lamb (D-Pa.).
However, Waters, a Democrat, led in campaign disbursements to family members after paying her daughter over $187,000 during the 2020 cycle to run a slate-mailer operation, OpenSecrets reported.
In 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that Rep. Waters’s family members had made more than $1 million over the previous eight years by “doing business with companies, candidates and causes that the influential congresswoman has helped.”
At the time, Rep. Waters defended the practice, noting that her family’s business interests were separate from her congressional activities.
“They do their business, and I do mine,” she told the paper.
While it is legal for federal lawmakers to employ family members on the campaign payroll, a group of Republican lawmakers in June 2022 introduced the Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act, aimed at preventing members of Congress from employing family members on campaigns amid an ethics debate over the practice.
Rep. Waters won reelection in November 2020 to California’s 43rd Congressional District, a seat she has held since 2013. She is running again in the midterm elections in 2022.