-- Rep. Maxine Waters's family members earned more than $1 million in the past eight years doing business with candidates, companies and causes she helped, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Waters's daughter and son pocketed fees from campaigns endorsed by the congresswoman, and her husband worked for a bond underwriting firm that received government business from her political allies, the newspaper reported.
Waters, an influential Democratic lawmaker whose district includes parts of Los Angeles, would not answer detailed questions on the business dealings. She insisted that her family's fortunes were kept apart from her political activities.
"They do their business and I do mine," said Waters, 66. "We are not bad people."
The family's close financial ties are not expressly prohibited by state laws or congressional ethics rules.
The Times reported that Waters and her children are linked through a political organization called L.A. Vote that publishes an election mailer listing campaigns she endorsed. Some candidates are included free and others pay tens of thousands of dollars, it said.
Of the $1.7 million that L.A. Vote collected in the past eight years, nearly $450,000 went to Waters's daughter, Karen, and her consulting firm, public disclosure reports show. About $115,000 was paid to the congresswoman's son, Edward.
Karen Waters, 46, said she and her mother keep their business dealings separate. Edward Waters, 49, a high school basketball coach and political consultant, declined to comment.
Waters's children have also landed consulting work with the mailer's advertisers, including former 1998 gubernatorial candidate Al Checchi and Indian tribes.
A campaign consultant for the tribes, whose interests and ballot measures the congresswoman has consistently backed, said Karen Waters was hired on her merits.
"We didn't hire her because of her mom," Chuck Winner said.
Waters's husband, Sidney Williams, was paid nearly $500,000 for consulting work with Siebert, Brandford Shank and Co., a municipal bond company, and with politicians whom his wife supports, public records show.
Williams, 62, a former professional football linebacker and U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, said Waters complied with public disclosure laws.
Napoleon Brandford III, the firm's chairman and co-owner, said Williams was hired for his own connections and not for those of his wife.
The Times reported that Williams helped the company win a $40 million school bond sale approved by school board members that paid Waters's mailer operation to advertise her endorsement.
With Williams's assistance, the company secured a $424 million bond deal for building a prison in Delano, Calif., after lobbying the office of state Treasurer Philip Angelides. Angelides has been regularly listed in Waters's mailers.
Angelides said in a statement that his decisions are based solely "on the advice of the professional staff."