Double standard? What's Maxine Waters doing on any congressional committee seat with that slate-mailer op run by her daughter?

Apparently, it's not just ballot-harvesting that has made the state of California impenetrably blue.

If you ever wondered why a political charlatan such as Rep. Maxine Waters could have so much power, well, take a look at how her daughter makes money. 

According to the Washington Free Beacon's investigative reporter, Joe Schoffstall:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) paid $50,000 from her campaign's coffers to her daughter in recent months to chip away at six figures of accrued debt for an operation that pulls in large sums of money for the congresswoman's campaign committee, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Rep. Waters's committee disbursed two payments to her daughter, Karen, in the amounts of $42,000 and $8,000 during the first quarter, which runs from Jan. 1 to March 31. The $50,000 in payments were made to Karen for running a slate mailer, or endorsement mailer, operation from the campaign and were the most paid out by the committee for any activity throughout the first three months of the year.

Nothing apparently illegal about it, given the FEC filings cited, but like ballot-harvesting, it sure as heck isn't practiced in many states - only adjacent Oregon is named by the Beacon, perhaps mainly because it amounts to selling endorsements on little mailed cards to unwitting voters.

The slate mailers are sent out to South Central Los Angeles residents and contain a sample ballot and quote from Waters in support of other California Democratic politicians. The candidates pay hefty sums—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars each—to Waters's campaign from their own committees to be included on the mailers.

The operation brought in $400,000 from candidates running for office during the midterm election cycle, including $52,000 from now-governor Gavin Newsom. Waters's campaign received more than 20 separate checks of $10,000 or more from other committees this past cycle.

Karen Waters has greatly benefitted from overseeing the slate mailers and has pocketed north of $800,000 over the years, the Free Beacon previously reported.

Waters, according to the Beacon, is the only one doing it on a federal level, maybe because it's such a sleazy political backroom practice. What it amounts to is selling endorsements for money quite possibly the highest bidders (one wonders if rival Democrats have these bidding wars for who gets the Citizens for Waters endorsement card endorsement) making the selling of an endorsement a lucrative thing for the Waters side of the thing - apparently it is, and her daughter, who runs the operation, has made six-figure income from the concept. 

Voters, meanwhile, remain in the dark and think there really is a group out there called 'Citizens for Waters' that deliberates to the best of its ability to present a fine set of recommendations from its own perspective. No, it's not that at all - and many voters just see 'Democrat' or 'Republican' on such cards, or maybe some donkeys or elephants, and imagine that these are the best representations of their values.

I follow politics closely, I google groups that send me slate endorsements, I've actually gotten some of these Citizens for Waters mailers in fact, and I sure as heck didn't know about this practice until I researched this story. I always wondered what those little slate mailers at election time were about, they sure didn't seem to want to reveal much of who they were on the cards themselves - apparently, they were just instruments for swooshing money from one campaign coffer to another, making some of them into profit-making operations, not actual endorsements, and worse still, fooling voters. 

According to this excellent Los Angeles Daily News piece, which explains exactly what is going on with this questionable political racket, conservatives are especially targeted because they have to pick solely between leftists in a race and are large enough a block for Democrats to try to fool into voting for them. This would explain why the practice tends to be more local than federal, although Waters stands out because she does it from the federal level, as the Beacon notes.

The Daily News explains it this way

If you’re the kind of Californian who votes in most elections, you have by now received stacks of the political mail sent out to convince voters that people they trust have made a slate of recommendations for every race in the upcoming election.

But many of these mailers don’t come from people you trust. They come from political consultants.

The peculiar California institution known as the “slate mailer” typically features images of people you trust on one side and a lot of little boxes on the other. Inside each box is the recommendation for a candidate or measure on the ballot.

But these “recommendations” have an asterisk. Literally. The asterisk next to the name or ballot measure indicates that the candidate or committee paid to be on that mailer.

It’s advertising. And often, it’s extremely deceptive advertising.

Many Republicans contacted me to ask why the Republican Party was endorsing a bunch of Democratic candidates in the upcoming city elections. They had received very convincing mailers that featured pictures of elephants or Ronald Reagan, or both, typically accompanied by the words, “Republican Voter Guide” and “Take this card to the voting booth with you.”

But the Republican Party isn’t endorsing Democrats and it isn’t sending out slate mailers.

There are still enough Republicans in Southern California to swing a race between two Democrats, so campaigns pay consultants to send mail that tricks GOP-registered voters into thinking Democrats are Republicans.

I can't tell if Waters's operation is to trick South Central's conservatives (and I think there are some) into voting for the candidates that give her the most money or not, but it kind of doesn't matter. It's a gamy practice premised on selling endorsements under the color of grassroots groups that don't exist, and it doesn't contribute to clean politics or honest voting decisions. Like ballot-harvesting, it relies on voter ignorance or indifference.

Yet Waters makes a lot of money from it, via her daughter's operation, and certainly has found her safe congressional seat seemingly conducive toward it. And she's the only one in Congress doing it - imagine if someone else in a California Republican safe seat, such as GOP representatives Duncan Hunter, Jr. or Devin Nunes, did that. There would be all sorts of investigative reporting on this practice, and probably call to ban it.

Speaking of Hunter, recall that Hunter lost all of his congressional committee seats over charges of campaign finance violations. What Waters is doing is apparently not a violation, but it sure as heck is a shenanigan, because it doesn't contribute to free or fair elections. Why isn't she kicked of her committee seats in the name of clean elections, too? Oh, forgot: She's a Democrat.

Image credit: Majunznk, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0


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