YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 4 of 5)


Capitalizing on a Politician's Clout

The husband, daughter and son of Rep. Maxine Waters have business links to people the influential lawmaker has aided.

December 19, 2004|Chuck Neubauer and Ted Rohrlich | Times Staff Writers

Brandford said he and Williams successfully pitched Angelides to let the firm lead the largest bond deal ever awarded by the state of California to a minority firm: $424 million to build a prison in Delano.

They argued that giving the firm the deal would be "socially responsible," because it was minority-owned and California-based, in Oakland, Brandford said. Williams collected $84,393 as his share of Siebert's net profit.

Angelides did not respond to questions except with a brief written statement that said his decisions are based solely "on the advice of the professional staff."

A spokesman for Angelides added that bond firms have been told they do not need to hire consultants to obtain access to the treasurer's office.


The Golf Course

Williams got into the golf business with the help of another of his wife's political allies.

He got his entry in 1993, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors entertained bids on a contract to run county-owned Chester Washington Golf Course in South Los Angeles.

One of the bidders, Alton Duhon, a black golf professional, said he knew in his gut he was wasting his time as soon as he saw Williams sitting with another group on the day they were to be interviewed by a ratings panel. Duhon said he was with his partners, two other African American golf course professionals, while Williams was with a white-owned major company, American Golf.

"I knew that meant they weren't going to go with us," Duhon said. "I knew he was bigger than I was. He's Mrs. Waters' husband. He's a football player. And his wife's got all the action."

Indeed, with Williams and Waters' son, Edward, as minority partners, American Golf got the panel's nod and the board's approval for the 20-year lease to run Chester Washington, which has a rich history as a training ground for top-flight African American golfers.

County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke threw her support behind the deal in 1993, just months after Rep. Waters had tossed Burke's campaign a lifeline -- endorsing her in the waning days of a tight race. Because the golf course was in her district, Burke became the key decision-maker and the focal point for a lobbying effort on behalf of Duhon's group, which had come in second with the ratings panel.

Burke declined to be interviewed. Her chief of staff, John Hill, said, "She doesn't believe there was any linkage" between her endorsement by Rep. Waters and her backing of a group that included Waters' husband and son.

Hill said Burke's usual practice is to go along with the review panels unless there is good reason not to. He added that, a decade ago, affirmative action would have been a consideration and "this group came in with minority contractors as subcontractors."

Williams, who played his pro football for the Cleveland Browns and other teams, bought his 15% of the Chester Washington venture for $15,000, records show. Edward Waters purchased 5% for $5,000, according to public records and interviews. A third minority partner, former L.A. Raider and USC quarterback Vince Evans, also put up $5,000. American Golf was to put in more than $700,000, according to a draft partnership agreement.

Rep. Waters has reported on her financial disclosure statements that her husband has earned between $140,000 and $400,000 since his group won the lease. The job of the minority partners was to help maintain good relations with the surrounding community, according to the draft. It said they were to have no active role in running the course.

Evans, who lends his name to a charity golf tournament, said he got his investment opportunity by approaching the then-president of American Golf. He said he has had little or no contact with his fellow minority partners. He said he has seen Williams around, but never met Edward, and has no idea how they became his partners.


Party Times

When Maxine Waters takes to the national stage in politics, her daughter is right beside her.

The congresswoman played host at star-studded parties at the 2000 and 2004 Democratic national conventions.

Most convention parties are sponsored by firms hoping to curry favor with politicians or by organizations that receive corporate funding. Companies that wanted to show their support for the Waters gatherings sent their contributions to African American Committee 2000 & Beyond, a tiny not-for-profit organization that she and her daughter co-founded four years ago.

The group has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most of the money has gone toward party expenses. It raised $207,000 and staged a gala at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, tax filings show. Karen Waters was paid $20,000, according to the records.

For many, the contributions are a way to build goodwill with black leaders and their supporters. For some, it can also be a good way to say thanks.

Los Angeles Times Articles