Mothers Can Use Campaign Funds To Pay For Childcare, FEC Rules

Photo Courtesy of Liuba Grechen Shirley.
The Federal Election Commission handed out a major victory to mothers running for office on Tuesday, ruling that a first-time candidate in New York is allowed to use a portion of her campaign funds to pay for childcare.
Liuba Grechen Shirley, a Democrat running on the state's 2nd District, asked the commission in early April to allow campaign funds to be used for childcare-related expenses. Prior to launching her congressional bid in October, she worked from home as a consultant and was the full-time caregiver of her two toddlers. When she decided to run, the family hired a part-time babysitter to take care of the kids, paying her $22 an hour for about 20 hours per week.
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In her letter, the candidate argued the family's babysitter is an integral part of her campaign.
The FEC ruled that Grechen Shirley's request falls under the Act and Commission regulations, which allows campaign funds to be used for "ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with duties of the individual as a holder of Federal office."
The ruling reads: "The Commission concludes that your authorized campaign committee may use campaign funds to pay for the childcare expenses described in your request because such expenses would not exist irrespective of your candidacy."
A record number of women running for office this year, including many mothers, and people have wondered why the cost of childcare would not be considered part of a campaign.
Some of Grechen Shirley's supporters included Hillary Clinton, who penned her own letter to the FEC, and several lawmakers — including Reps. Lois Frankel, Maxine Waters, and Terri Sewell.
"Denying Ms. Shirley's request would undermine the Commission's previous advisory opinions, discourage young mothers from seeking elective office, and deprive parents of ordinary means of the opportunity to serve," Clinton wrote in her letter to the FEC last month. "Young women like Ms. Shirley are now running for office in record-breaking numbers. For young mothers like her, the ability to seek office hinges on access to child care.'
After the ruling, Rep. Frankel celebrated the decision in a statement to Refinery29.
“Today’s FEC decision recognizes the everyday realities of working parents running for elected office," she said. "The practical effect of breaking down this barrier gives a boost to getting more mothers on the campaign trail.”
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Hopefully, the FEC's ruling will encourage more mothers to seek office.
This story was originally published at 12:17 p.m. It has since been updated.
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