The Federal Election Commission has ruled that a New York woman running for Congress can use a portion of her campaign funds to pay for childcare.
In April, Liuba Grechen Shirley—a Democrat running for congress in Long Island, New York—petitioned the FEC for permission to use campaign funds to cover childcare expenses; as the mother of two young children, Grechen Shirley was relying on a full-time babysitter as her campaign began to heat up.
“Having foregone my income while still managing my typical finances including medical bills, student loans, and a mortgage, paying for full-time childcare for an extended period of time in order to campaign for congress is not financially possible,” she wrote to the FEC. “It is critical that we make running for office accessible to all working parents, not just for the independently wealthy.”
FEC rules dictate that campaign contributions and donations may be used for “otherwise authorized expenditures in connection with the campaign for Federal office of the candidate or individual,” but not for “personal use.” The FEC lists various examples of personal use, such as clothing, club memberships, tuition payments, mortgage, and non-campaign related entertainment. Childcare is not listed. During her campaign, Grechen Shirley requested that the FEC clarify whether using campaign funds for child care falls under the umbrella of prohibited personal use, and argued that it shouldn’t.
The FEC agreed.
Grechen Shirley isn’t the first candidate to request to use campaign funds on child care. As she noted in her request to the FEC, in 1995 and 2008, congressional hopefuls—both men—also asked the FEC to allow them to use campaign funds to pay for childcare in a limited capacity. The FEC approval granted in 1995, but the 2008 approval wasn’t formalized due to a technicality.
(“At the time of the request, the only sitting commissioners voted in favor of the [2008 request], but were unable to issue a formal opinion with a quorum,” Grechen Shirley writes.)
But the FEC’s ruling in Grechen Shirley’s favor today applies for future candidates hoping they don’t have to give up their dreams of running for office just because they can’t afford the associated childcare costs.
Trying to job at the most dysfunctional, hellish workplace in America and making sure your kids have proper supervision and care all the while? Who says you can’t have it all!