Democrats complain Waters is slow to spread Wall Street wealth – POLITICO

Democrats complain Waters is slow to spread Wall Street wealth – POLITICO.

by Zachary Warmbrodt · August 9, 2019

“This committee is no longer simply a ‘juice committee,’” Rep. Maxine Waters said in a statement. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Campaign finance filings paint a stark picture.

The House Financial Services Committee is a magnet for Wall Street campaign cash, but some Democrats are grumbling that Chairwoman Maxine Waters has been slow to deliver the goods to members who are key to holding the majority.

Lawmakers, aides and lobbyists say Waters, a Los Angeles Democrat serving her 15th term, has yet to emulate other committee leaders who have used their perch to shower members with money through direct contributions and fundraising events.

Campaign finance filings paint a stark picture.

Waters’ GOP counterpart on the committee, ranking member Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), contributed about $159,000 to Republicans through his leadership PAC over the first half of the year. Waters disbursed just $10,000 to House Democrats during the same period.

But she makes no apologies for that.

“This committee is no longer simply a ‘juice committee,’” Waters said in a statement, referring to lawmakers who introduce legislation on behalf of special interests to raise money.

Some lower-ranking Financial Services Democrats distributed double and triple what Waters did from their own leadership PACs, which lawmakers form to dole out money to their colleagues’ campaigns and raise their own political status.

“It’s been less of her focus,” said one committee Democrat, who like several people interviewed for this story declined to be identified criticizing Waters’s political activities. “That’s a nice way to say it.”

Among the reasons Democrats and industry sources offered: Waters was not a prolific fundraiser even before she took over the chair of the powerful committee in January, and she has a more distant — often adversarial — relationship with finance industry players, though she continues to accept corporate PAC money.

Instead, she has focused the committee’s agenda on consumer protection and Wall Street oversight — a dramatic shift from her Republican predecessor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who used the gavel to advance regulatory rollbacks that benefited the industry.

Yet the absence of greater financial firepower from Waters is frustrating some Democrats because they want her to do more to help keep control of the House after a hard-fought battle to win it back last year. Six Democrats who flipped Republican seats in the midterm election sit on the Financial Services Committee.

“In tough, competitive races you want to be able to raise every little bit of money you can,” said one political adviser to a Financial Services Committee Democrat. “It puts us at a disadvantage when you have a chair of a committee who isn’t as gung-ho.”

Other Democratic chairs are doing more financially to boost candidates in upcoming races.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) used his leadership PAC in the first half of this year to raise about $228,000 in total receipts and contribute $115,000 to other Democrats. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) raised $373,000 for his leadership PAC and sent $128,000 to other Democrats. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) brought in $352,000 for his leadership PAC and disbursed $92,000.

Waters, who unlike some other progressives has not disavowed corporate PAC money, raised $20,000 through her leadership PAC and disbursed $10,000 among seven California Democrats during the first half of the year, including Financial Services member Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who flipped a longtime GOP seat in 2018.

Porter’s reelection campaign brought in about $1.4 million over the first six months of this year, even as she rejected corporate cash. Waters’ own reelection campaign reported about $364,000 in total receipts during the same period and no contributions to other members.

In the 2017-2018 election cycle, Waters’ campaign and the “People Helping People” leadership PAC raised about $1.7 million combined. That was less than a quarter of Schiff’s haul and less than half of Neal’s.

Compared to Republicans, who in recent years have used the committee to pare down financial safeguards loathed by industry, the gap is even more glaring.

McHenry raised $423,000 through his leadership PAC over the first half of the year, more than 20 times what Waters collected for hers.

A source familiar with McHenry’s political operation said that since January, he either has held an event or has scheduled one for every Republican on the Financial Services Committee, so far raising $1.4 million. Part of the haul came from a series of breakfasts he hosted, which raised about $90,000 per event.

“He’s very, very savvy and is an asset to the team from the standpoint of raising money and supporting the conference and members of the committee,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said.

In a statement in response to this story, Waters said her primary focus during the first months of this year has been on organizing the panel and building a record of legislative accomplishments, including those that members can bring home to their districts.

“I have not turned down any requests made to me by the new members and look forward to honoring requests that will be made as campaigns begin to ramp up their activities this fall,” she said.

Waters has agreed to participate in a fundraiser for Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), who flipped a GOP seat last year. In addition, she said she has contributed to “nearly 20″ of her committee members and some “frontliners” in competitive districts, and will expand her efforts going into 2020. The additional contributions are not yet disclosed in campaign finance filings.

Last year, Waters said she paid $220,000 in dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, raised nearly $100,000 more to support the DCCC’s work and contributed $52,500 to Democratic candidates in swing districts, in addition to appearing at events across the country.

Waters said that while she accepts the responsibility for assisting members with fundraising, “we must never lose sight of why we were elected to office.” She touted the 42 hearings and 40 bills that were considered during the first six months of her time as chairwoman.

“We were all elected to office to address the public policy needs of our constituents,” she said. “That is our number one priority.”

Politico · by Zachary Warmbrodt · August 9, 2019

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