The FEC ruled that federal candidates may use their campaign funds to help pay for childcare while spending time running for office.
Campaign finance law does not allow expenditures to be personal i.e. groceries or mortgage/rent but since they are working to run for office, it is an allowable expense.
Campaign funds may be used to pay for a candidate’s child care expenses that are incurred as a direct result of campaign activity.
Liuba Grechen Shirley is a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District of New York. Prior to becoming a candidate, she worked from home as a consultant while providing full-time care for her children. When Ms. Shirley started her campaign (Liuba for Congress), she hired a part-time child care provider. As the primary election approaches, Ms. Shirley anticipates that she will need additional full-time, evening and weekend child care for her children so that she can devote time to running her campaign. Luiba for Congress asks if it may use campaign funds to pay for Ms. Shirley’s campaign-related child care expenses.
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations, campaign funds may be used to defray expenses in connection with a candidate’s campaign for federal office. However, campaign funds may not be converted to personal use by any person. Personal use occurs when campaign funds are used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense that would exist irrespective of a candidate’s campaign or an individual’s duties as a federal officeholder. For items not listed in the regulations as examples of personal use, the Commission determines on a case-by-case basis whether an expense would constitute personal use.
The Act and Commission regulations do not expressly address payments for child care expenses. The Commission thus examined whether the proposed child care expenses would exist irrespective of Ms. Shirley’s campaign for federal office. The Commission considered its previous decision in advisory opinion 1995-42 where it allowed campaign funds to be used for the occasional child care expenses that arose while the candidate campaigned. In that case, the Commission concluded that the child care expenses were a direct result of campaign activity and would not otherwise exist.
Likewise here, the Commission concluded that childcare expenses that are a direct result of Ms. Shirley’s campaign activity would not exist irrespective of her campaign. Therefore, the Commission concluded that Liuba for Congress may use its campaign funds to pay for Ms. Shirley’s campaign-related childcare expenses, to the extent such expenses are incurred as a direct result of campaign activity.
Date issued: May 10, 2018; Length: 3 pages
11 CFR 113.1(g)
Definition of personal use