Wall Street critic Waters rakes in corporate campaign money
The figures suggest that Rep. Maxine Waters is following through on a pledge to have an "open-door" policy with industry, even as she uses the gavel to crack down on financial firms in the name of consumer protection. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Rep. Maxine Waters is embracing corporate campaign contributions as the new chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, even as other progressive Democrats have sworn off fundraising from businesses.
The California Democrat's campaign received about $210,329 in contributions during the first three months of this year, most of which came from industry PACs, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission. About $38,329 came from individual contributions.
The figures suggest that Waters is following through on a pledge to have an "open-door" policy with industry, even as she uses the gavel to crack down on financial firms in the name of consumer protection. In all, she saw her contributions grow nearly 18 times over from the $12,009 that her campaign reported in the first three months of the last election cycle in 2017.
Waters' allowance for corporate PAC donations sets her apart from other liberal icons such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who have pledged to not take the money. Some of it may come with the territory Waters' predecessor, former Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), was a top recipient of finance industry contributions, which he shared with fellow Republican candidates on and off the committee.
In the first quarter of his chairmanship in 2013, Hensarlings campaign raised $261,500 from political committees, including corporate PACs, and $354,225 from individuals.
Insurers, which are lobbying Waters' committee on a range of issues, have given the biggest boost to her campaign coffers of any sector of the financial industry.
The industry hosted a March 12 fundraiser for Waters, and more than 20 insurance PACs contributed to her campaign in the first quarter. Among the insurer and insurance trade group PACs that cut checks: the American Property Casualty Insurance Association of America, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, MetLife, Primerica, State Farm, USAA and Zurich.
Even industries that Waters has bashed were willing to make contributions to the new chairwoman. TransUnion's PAC gave $5,000 to her campaign on Feb. 15, two weeks before its CEO testified with other credit reporting executives at a Financial Services hearing intended to showcase their companies' shortcomings.
Other corporate PACs that contributed to Waters' campaign included those operated by Amazon, NASDAQ and the Independent Community Bankers of America. Boeing and General Electric, which lobby the committee to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, also gave money to her campaign.