Alexa Pinto

Recent FEC opinion allows candidates to use campaign funds for child care

Last Thursday, the FEC has issued an advisory opinion that allows a federal candidate to use campaign funds to cover childcare expenses incurred during a campaign. Liuba Grechen Shirley, who is running for New York’s 2nd District on Long Island, requested that the FEC allow her to use campaign funds to pay a babysitter for her two children while she ran for office. Although FECA, the Federal Election Campaign Act, states that candidates running for office can’t use campaign funds for personal use, the FEC solidified their unanimous decision by using the “irrespective test” – a test which determines if the costs would exist despite the campaign’s existence. They determined that because Grechen Shirley would not need a babysitter had she not been a candidate, the corresponding expense is not a personal expense and can be paid for with campaign funds.

This landmark opinion follows other ground-breaking moments women in government have had in 2018, such as women running for office in record breaking numbers. Recognizing that childcare is a legitimate campaign expense makes it more possible for other women to run. “There’s a reason more than half of Congressmembers are millionaires: running for office takes a huge toll on a family’s budget, especially while raising children,” Grechen Shirley said to Buzzfeed about the FEC’s decision. “This groundbreaking decision will remove a major financial obstacle for working families and mothers at a time when women are increasingly considering elected office.”