- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of the radical Progressive Caucus
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus
- Chief Deputy Minority Whip in the House of Representatives
- Voted against the 1991 Gulf War after it began, and in March 2003, was one of 11 who voted against the resolution to support our troops after the Iraq War commenced
- Has traveled to Cuba and has praised Marxist dictator Fidel Castro
- Rationalized and justified the actions of the 1992 Los Angeles rioters
Maxine Waters is a Democratic Member of Congress who represents the 35th District of California. She was born in 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri, the fifth of thirteen children raised by a single mother in a home that was visited regularly by welfare and social workers.
Waters moved to Southern California in 1961, worked in a garment factory, raised two children and was employed for a year as a Head Start social worker following the 1965 Watts riots. In 1970 she earned a degree in sociology from California State University in Los Angeles.
Waters entered politics in 1973 as deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman David Cunningham. Three years later she ran successfully for a seat in the California Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature. She became a member of the Democratic National Committee in 1980 and helped design California's gerrymandered redistricting in 1982. In 1984 she was co-chair of Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign. When longtime Democratic Congressman Augustus Hawkins retired in 1990, Waters was anointed as his successor by Democratic Party bosses and easily won election. She has served in the U.S. House of Representatives ever since.
As a Member of Congress, Waters belongs to the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, the latter of which she formerly headed. In June 2005 she co-founded and chaired the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus (OICC), an entity dedicated to agitating for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Iraqi theater of war -- alleging that the American invasion in 2003 had been launched on a pretext of lies and deliberately manipulated intelligence. Waters’ fellow OICC co-founders included John Conyers, William Delahunt, Barbara Lee, John R. Lewis, Charles Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, and Lynn Woolsey.
Prior to every primary and final election, Waters publishes her own Progressive Connection mailer for her constituents; Democrat politicians eager for votes from her district pay Waters anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 to be included in the slates of candidates her mailer endorses.
Waters’ political rhetoric is often demagogic. In 2001 she depicted the retiring moderate Republican Mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan, as a "plantation owner." On another occasion, while addressing the allegedly pervasive problem of police brutality against African Americans, Waters said that she had never seen Los Angeles police officers abuse "little white boys."
During the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the infamous 1992 Rodney King trial, Waters described the violence (in which 58 people were killed) as "a spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice." She held “economic, social, cultural and political” factors responsible for the disorder. She dismissed the mass black looting of Korean-owned stores by saying: "There were mothers who took this as an opportunity to take some milk, to take some bread, to take some shoes…. They are not crooks." Chanting the radical slogan "No justice, no peace," she attributed the rioters’ underlying rage to the federal government’s allegedly longstanding “neglect” of America’s inner cities.
Waters further asserted that racial injustice was rampant in America. She claimed that the L.A. tumult could rightly be called a “rebellion” or “insurrection,” but not a riot. “Riot implies to me wild, crazed, uncalled-for actions,” she explained, “and I’m not so sure that’s quite appropriate for what took place in Los Angeles.” It was “unfortunate,” she said, “that “it takes things like this rebellion to wake people up.”
One of the individuals who was gravely injured in the riots was a white man named Reginald Denny, whom a group of rioters pulled out of his truck and bashed in the head with a cinder block -- simply because of the color of his skin. The entire incident was videotaped from a helicoper above the scene. When Damian Williams, the ringleader of the mob that attacked Denny, was sent to prison on a felony charge, Waters visited Williams's mother to offer her support. And when Williams's accomplices escaped prosecution, Waters celebrated. (Notably, Damian Williams was released from prison a few years later and subsequently committed murder in 2000, a crime for which he was sentenced to 51 years in prison.)
Waters co-sponsored Rep. John Conyers' bill calling for reparations for slavery to be paid to African Americans.
Waters blames illicit drugs for the rampant crime that plagues her congressional district, and she has blamed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the presence of those drugs. In the 1980s she accused the CIA of selling crack in black neighborhoods. However, the San Jose Mercury-News eventually retracted the story on which Waters had based her allegations for lack of evidence. Undeterred, Waters told the Los Angeles Times in 1997: "It doesn't matter whether the CIA delivered the kilo of cocaine themselves or turned their back on it to let somebody else do it. They're guilty just the same."
Waters has traveled several times to Cuba, where she praised dictator Fidel Castro and called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government. In a letter to Castro (quoted during an October 2, 1998 newscast on Radio Havana), she wrote that Castro had a perfect right to grant "political asylum" to U.S. citizens fleeing "political persecution."
In 1999, when six-year-old Elian Gonzalez requested asylum in the U.S. after his mother had drowned during their escape from Cuba, Waters pressured President Bill Clinton to return the boy immediately to his homeland. During the controversy over the matter, Waters flew to Cuba and met with the boy's father and grandmothers, thereby giving political and propaganda support to Castro.
In 1998 Waters voted in favor of a measure calling on Castro to turn over (to U.S. authorities) a female fugitive named Assata Olugbala Shakur, who had received refugee status in Havana after escaping in November 1979 from a U.S. prison -- where she had been serving a life sentence for her 1973 execution-style murder of a New Jersey state trooper. After having cast the aforementioned vote, Waters learned that Shakur was actually the former Black Panther Joanne Chesimard, who had taken a new name in the early 1970s. Once Waters was aware of the fugitive's actual identity, the congresswoman penned a letter of apology to Castro and urged the Cuban dictator to continue safeguarding the convicted killer -- because the latter been "persecuted for her civil-rights work" in the United States. Wrote Waters on September 29, 1998:
"“Dear President Castro, I am writing to clarify my position on a resolution recently passed by the United States House of Representatives on September 14, 1998. I, and some of the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, mistakenly voted for House Concurrent Resolution 254 which called on the Government of Cuba to extradite to the United States Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals who have fled the United States from political persecution and received political asylum in Cuba. Joanne Chesimard was the birth name of a political activist known to most Members of the Congressional Black Caucus as Assata Shakur. For the record, I am opposed to the resolution. I unequivocally stated that a mistake was made and I would have voted against the legislation."
On September 9, 2000, Waters was among the many people who greeted and honored Castro during his visit to Harlem’s Riverside Church. At the event, Castro said: "I came to Harlem because I knew it was here that I would find my best friends."
Organized labor is by far Waters’ biggest campaign contributor and has supplied more than two-thirds of her Political Action Committee (PAC) donations. Her largest labor support comes from the Laborers' International Union of North America and the Service Employees International Union. Other Waters campaign donors include the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) and Viacom, which owns CBS and many cable networks.
In August 2005 Waters threw her support behind Cindy Sheehan’s campaign to discredit President Bush and the Iraq War effort.
Also in 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) named Waters as one of the 13 "most corrupt" members of the U.S. Congress. The CREW report cited a December 2004 Los Angeles Times investigation disclosing how a number of Waters’ relatives had made more than $1 million during the preceding eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters had helped. Waters declined to be interviewed about this matter, saying only that her family members “do their business, and I do mine.”
In a May 2008 congressional hearing on gasoline prices, Shell Oil President John Hofmeister stated: “I can guarantee to the American people because of the inaction of the United States Congress, ever-increasing prices, unless the demand comes down, and that $5 [per gallon] will look like a very low price in the years to come if we are prohibited from finding new [oil] reserves, new opportunities to increase supplies.” Waters replied: “And guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be about socializing – would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies.”
During the national financial crisis that struck in the autumn of 2008, Waters was lobbied by representatives of OneUnited Bank, a black-owned depository institution that was seeking a federal government bailout after having squandered almost $52 million of its bank capital on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock. These lobbyists were longtime friends, donors, and fundraisers of Rep. Waters.
Meanwhile, Waters' husband had a long history as an investor in one of the banks that had previously merged into OneUnited; he had once served on OneUnited's board of directors; and he owned large amounts of stock in OneUnited. In fact, both he and Rep. Waters had owned six-figure sums of OneUnited stock at various times during the preceding six years.
In response to OneUnited's lobbying, Rep. Waters intervened to arrange a meeting where representatives of the bank could plead their case to then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and 20 of his subordinates. As a result of that meeting, Paulson et al secretly engineered a special federal rescue of the floundering bank. This bailout cost American taxpayers $12 million in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) cash.
On August 2, 2010, the House Ethics Committee filed three charges against Waters, alleging that she had used her influence to gain special favors (from the federal government) for OneUnited.
In August 2011, Waters had some harsh words for the ascendant conservative movement known as the Tea Party:
"“I’m not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned — the Tea Party can go straight to hell.”
In September 2011, Waters called for the implementation of a federal "jobs program of a trillion dollars or more." "We’ve got to put Americans to work," she said. "That’s the only way to revitalize this economy. When people work they earn money, they spend that money, and that’s what gets the economy up and going."
In February 2012, Waters delivered an incendiary speech to delegates at the California Democratic State Convention, in which she said:
“I saw pictures of [House Speaker John] Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor on our screens. Don’t ever let me see again in life those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons. These are legislators who are ... destroying this country because again they’d rather do whatever they can to destroy this president rather than for the good of this country.”
At a February 19, 2012 public town hall meeting at the Islamic Society of Orange County, California, Waters said:
“Over the last year, and due to the focus of House Republicans on so-called Muslim radicalization, we have seen politicians and pundits attacking the Islamic faith as a security threat to the United States. Across the country, these people are spreading fear and trying to convince state legislatures that the city adoption of Sharia tenets is a strategy extremists are using to transform the United States into an Islamic country. The scare tactics are working. In at least thirteen states where lawmakers are now considering the adoption of legislation forbidding Sharia. A bill in the Tennessee state senate, for example, would make adherence to Sharia punishable by fifteen years in jail and one of the nation’s Republican Presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich, has called for a federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States....
"In addition to the state attacks, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, has vowed to continue his controversial radicalization hearings, specifically focusing on Muslim Americans. While it is a challenge for lawmakers to strike the right balance, and protect the most liberties and security, Chairman King and other Republicans’ disrespectful approach to broadening extremism is contrary to American values and actually threatens national security. Effective national security policy must not unfairly target or single out any one community and place [incomprehensible] techniques that focus on racial profiling....
"And that is why I have supported H.R. – that is, House Resolution 3618 entitled, 'End The Racial Profiling Act.' If enacted, this bill will prohibit any law enforcement official from engaging in racial profiling. The legislation would further require law enforcement agencies to maintain adequate policies and procedures to eliminate racial profiling. It is irresponsible to target Muslim community[sic] and hold them accountable for the violent acts of a few. As we all know, individuals from many different communities of faith have used religion and political ideology to justify violence. When we consider the Klu[sic] Klux Klan, the Oklahoma City bombings, James Von Bruin’s[sic] violent shootings at the Holocaust Museum, bombings at Planned Parenthood clinics, and domestic military militias, we know that violence can emerge from many different types of communities....
"According to [the Muslim Public Affairs Council], evidence clearly indicates a general rise in violent extremism across all ideologies. Considering these [facts], it doesn’t make sense for Federal and local law enforcement officials to racially profile or treat Muslim Americans unfairly. We must foster and strengthen relationships with Muslim American community[sic], that like many other community,[sic] care about the safety and security of our country....
"The idea of any legislation that sets out a particular religious group for discrimination in [incomprehensible] violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States, and it is also a dangerous, if not familiar piece of American history, and we’re not going back.
"In closing, I wanna quote Daniel Mach, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. This is what he said. He said it was important to recognize what’s really going on, on these anti-Sharia laws. They’re motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry, plain and simple. Sharia equals Islam and Muslims, and a vote against one is a vote against another, Mach said."
In a February 2017 appearance on MSNBC, Waters read a list of people connected to the Trump administration -- Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Wilbur Ross, and Rex Tillerson -- who also allegedly had ties to Russia and the oil and gas industries. She then said: "Can’t people see what’s going on? Why do you think they [the Russians] hacked into our election? They hacked into the election because they have to make sure that Donald Trump got elected. So this that he could help them with what I think [is] a huge deal. Not only to lift these sanctions [against Russia] but to take over all of these Soviet countries and pull them back into the Soviet Union so they can have access to all of these resources. It’s clear to me and I just think the American people have to have a better understand what’s going on. This is a bunch of scumbags. That’s what they are."
In a March 9, 2017 interview with MSNBC, Waters voiced her determination to examine the explosive allegations about President Trump that were contained in a dossier which had been published in January by the website Buzzfeed. Specifically, the dossier claimed that the Russian government was using a video recording of Trump with Russian prostitutes as a tool for blackmailing the president, and that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, had met with Russian agents in 2016 to discuss ways of undermining Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "I think it should be taken a look at," said Waters. "I think they should really read it, understand it, analyze it, and determine what's fact, what may not be fact. We already know the part about the coverage they have on him with sex actions is supposed to be true. They have said that's absolutely true. Some other things they kind of allude to. Yes, I think he should go into that dossier and see what's there.... I think that if we do the investigations, that we will find the connections and I do think that impeachment will be necessary."
In a May 9, 2017 pocast with the Washington Post, Waters asserted that former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, whom President Donald Trump had appointed as Attorney General, was a racist. Said Waters:
“We have as our attorney general someone who is a throwback to the days of Jim Crow in the South, that we cannot depend on.... I think that Jeff Sessions is very dangerous. I think he is a racist and I think that he absolutely believes that it’s his job to keep minorities in their place. That he comes from a time and a place in his history where this was the order of the day. And I think he would go back to that, given his power he has now and his influence. And so I think we have to watch him. We have to keep an eye on him and be prepared to push back when we see that he is moving in that direction. Whether we are talking about Los Angeles or we are talking about Saint Louis, or talking about New York. You know, we have gone through some terrible periods of time where people of color were targeted, where they had policies that would stop people. They would frisk them. And they would easily handcuff them, put them in jail, shoot them, kill them, and we can’t go back. We still are not out of that period of time. We are still wrestling with trying to get justice from police departments and from juries and from courtrooms. The recent decision about the latest killing [of a black man named Alton Sterling] that is being talked about, that happened in Louisiana ... where thay have decided that the police certainly were not at fault, that they were just exercising their duty, is an example of -- given all that we've gone through, with Trayvon Martin and with Michael Bown and with all of that -- we're still faced with the fact that police officers will not be charged criminally, for the most part, for killing people of color.”
When questioned further about Sessions, Waters added: “I'm emphatic about it.... Remember he said that he did not really see a problem with the Ku Klux Klan until he discovered that they smoked marijuana, for example.... And then ... I saw a picture of him during the campaign where he had these people dressed in these antebellum clothes with these parasols ... They came to meet him at the airport. And so, I'm thinking to myself, you know, he really likes this.... I think he is a racist, I think he’s a throwback, and I don’t mind saying it, any day of the week.”
On June 11, 2017, Waters spoke at the annual L.A. Pride Parade and Resist March, where she called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump:
“He is not my president. He is not your president. He lies. He cheats. He’s a bully. He disrespects us all. If he thinks he can mess with the LGBT community, he better look at what happened right here in West Hollywood. You deny, you disrespect, and you will find that there are people who have the courage to organize and to take back whatever needs to be taken back. We resist this president because he stands for the worst of everything. And guess what, I know that people may not quite be ready. I know some are a little hesitant. I know some are saying I’m not so sure, Maxine, that what you are saying is the right thing, but I’m saying, impeach 45 [Trump was the 45th U.S. President]. Impeach 45.”
At the Essence Festival in New Orleans in early July 2017, Waters said the following about Ben Carson, Secretary of the Department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD): “He knows nothing about the mission of HUD. He doesn’t care about people in public housing. He believes that if you are poor, it is your own fault. And he doesn’t know the difference between an immigrant and a slave. And if he thinks when he comes before my committee where I am the ranking member of the financial services [i.e., she is the ranking member of the Financial Services Committee] that I am going to give him a pass… I am going to take his ass apart.” With regard to President Donald Trump, Waters said: “Ladies and gentleman, I am taking off the gloves. I don’t honor him, I don’t respect him and I am not going to tolerate him. I am going to do everything I can do to get him impeached.”
Waters owns a $4.8 million mansion in the upscale Hancock Park district of Los Angeles.
Since 2006, Waters' daughter Karen has been in charge of a "slate mailer" operation for Waters' federal campaign committee, Citizens for Waters (CfW), whereby other candidates pay CfW to send out mailers in which Waters endorses them. From 2006 through April 2017, Karen Waters was paid approximately $640,000 for her slate mailer services. A May 2017 report in the Washington Free Beacon stated: "Waters' most recent filings to the Federal Election Commission show that an outstanding balance of $108,952.15 is owed to Karen Waters. When Karen is paid the money that she is owed, she will have pocketed around $750,000 for running the mailers for the campaign since 2006."
For an overview of Waters’ congressional voting record on a number of key issues over the course of her political career, click here.
 Minoo Southgate, “Black Power, Nineties Style,” National Rebview (December 13, 1993), p. 47.
 Aldore Collier, “Maxine Waters: Telling It Like It Is in L.A.,” Ebony (October 1992), p. 38.
 “Maxine Waters: Straight Talk from South Central,” Ladies’ Home Journal (August 1992), p. 112.
 Aldore Collier, “Maxine Waters: Telling It Like It Is in L.A.,” Ebony (October 1992), p. 38.
 William Wilbanks, The Myth of a Racist Criminal justice System (Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1987), p. 33. John DiIulio, “My Black Crime Problem, and Ours,” City Journal (Spring 1996), p. 23.
 “Race and Crime,” Investor’s Business Daily (February 21, 1996).