OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters has paid her daughter over $1.2 million in total over the last decade and it’s all been legal.
Now, Republicans are aiming to put a ban on lawmakers from putting family members on the campaign payroll after many prominent Democrats have been called out over the practice.
“The Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act, to be introduced by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) on Monday, would bar any candidate running for federal office from compensating immediate family members for campaign services,” the New York Post reported.
“It is currently legal for lawmakers to employ family members to work on campaigns. However, Federal Election Commission regulations prohibit paying candidate relatives a salary unless they are ‘providing bona fide services to the campaign” and the salary represents “fair market value of the services provided.’ 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,” Fallon told The Post in a statement. “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.”
Last year it was reported that Waters had funneled more than $1 million from her various campaigns to her daughter Karen Waters, Fox News reported.
Karen Waters received over $1.1 million for her services with her mother’s campaigns — $250,000 of which came from the most recent election cycle, reported the Federal Election Commission.
The daughter of the California Democrat organized slate-mailing operations to bolster her mother’s re-election.
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 how to cast their ballots.
Rep. Waters was reportedly the only federal politician to use a slate-mailer operation during the 2020 general election.
Though the practice is not altogether that uncommon in the state of California, which has seen politicians like Gov. Gavin Newsom use the campaigning method. Vice President Kamala Harris also used slate mailers during her 2017 Senate campaign.
But for Waters, it is all in the family as it is not only her daughter Karen who has cashed in on the gravy train.
A report in 2004 by The Los Angeles Times showed that various members of the Waters family were paid more than $1 million in the eight years prior to that story being written, and that was more than 16 years ago.