Today, NLPC filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) violated federal election law in a transaction related to her so-called slate mailer during her last re-election campaign.
The transaction was a payment to Waters’ campaign fund from the Democratic State Central Committee of California (DSCCC) in the amount of $35,000 for the inclusion of then-Senate candidate, and now Senator Kamala Harris, on Waters’ slate mailer. Whereas candidates like Harris may legally pay Waters’ campaign for the proportional costs of their inclusion on her slate mailer, it is not legal for such payment to be made by a third party like the DSCCC.
Waters’ slate mailers have been a matter of controversy for years. They resemble a sample ballot distributed by political parties before and during elections, but contain Waters’ personal endorsements. She pioneered a new way to use slate mailers by seeking an Advisory Opinion from the Federal Election Commission in 2004 that allows her to use her federal campaign to also function as a State of California slate mailer committee while still maintaining eligibility as a principal federal campaign committee.
The main beneficiary of the slate mailers appears to be companies controlled by Waters’ daughter Karen Waters, which have received hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce the mailers. Critics have charged that Waters’ slate mailers are a way to evade contribution limits.
The Complaint alleges that the DSCCC payment was not legal under the Advisory Opinion. The Complaint further alleges that the DSCCC payment was made for purposes of influencing a federal election, making it a coordinated communication, well in excess of contribution limits. In addition to a request for an investigation of these apparent violations, NLPC asks for an audit of Waters’ campaign committee.