Waters family profiting from mailer biz

By Chuck Neubauer-The Washington Times

Rep. Maxine Waters has turned political endorsements into a family business, using federal election laws to charge California candidates and political causes to include their names as her personal picks on a sample ballot, or “slate mailer,” she sends to as many as 200,000 South Central Los Angeles voters, records show.

Some statewide candidates paid as much as $45,000 for their share of the costs to be included in the mailer, according to state and federal election records, and while it can be costly for the candidates, the mailer has proved profitable for Mrs. Waters’ daughter, Karen.

Karen Waters’ public relations firm, Progressive Connections, has been paid $354,500 since late 2004 to direct production and distribution of the mailer – about a third of the $1 million collected from the candidates and issue groups seeking to be included on the sample ballot, the records show.

The public relations firm was owed an additional $82,000 as of June 30 for her work on the mailer in the primary, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. Her fees do not include expenses for printing and mailing, which are paid separately by the committee.

In 2004, Mrs. Waters – who is fighting charges by the House ethics committee that she improperly sought federal help for a bank in which her husband owned stock – obtained an opinion from the FEC allowing her to run the mailer operation through her federal political committee, Citizens for Waters.

The ruling permitted her to collect payments from state and local politicians for their share of the costs without having them capped by federal contribution limits. Her mailer is not part of the ethics complaint.

“The Waters slate mailer is but one of at least 81 currently registered slate mailers in California,” said a source authorized to speak for the Waters campaign. “The slate committee’s accountant and lawyer have consistently complied with the fair-share allocations as determined by the FEC.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/1/waters-mailers-a-family-business/

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