Candidate Wins Right To Use Campaign Funds To Pay For Child Care

A candidate has two small children, but as election season approaches, she will soon require help to watch over them so she can focus on her work.

A woman running for Congress on Thursday became the first in United States history to use campaign funds to pay for child care.

This week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced that Liuba Grechen Shirley may use portions of her campaign funds to pay her babysitter to take care of her toddlers. 

The decision came after Shirley filed a petition with the commission asking for permission to use the money for child care.

She alleged that before running for Congress, she worked from home as a consultant, caring for her children full time. But now that she’s absent for some time every week to work on her campaign, she needs to hire a babysitter for her 3-year-old daughter, Mila, and 2-year-old son, Nicholas.

"As the primary election approaches, I expect to need full-time care for my children, along with additional support on evenings and weekends, so that I can devote the time necessary to run a successful campaign," she wrote in the petition.

In her petition, she also mentioned two cases involving male candidates who were given permission to use limited campaign funds to cover some child care costs from 1995 and from 2008 as precedent.

Thankfully, the FEC sided with her, and she was able to snatch a victory for working moms everywhere.

"It's a juggling act every day," Shirley told reporters. "I take conference calls while nursing my son and while my daughter is running around and playing."

After the FEC announced its decision, Shirley said she’s proud of what she accomplished already, long before the election actually begins.

"There’s a reason more than half of Congress members are millionaires: Running for office takes a huge toll on a family’s budget, especially while raising children," she said in a statement. "This groundbreaking decision will remove a major financial obstacle for working families and mothers at a time when women are increasingly considering elected office."

In a letter sent to the FEC in support of Shirley’s request, 24 members of Congress asked officials to allow the candidate to cover child care costs with campaign funds.

The letter stated that as lawmakers “work to build a political environment that is fair to candidates of all backgrounds, the Commission has a role to play in fairly enforcing and administering federal campaign finance laws."

Even former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote in support of Shirley.

"Young women like Ms. Shirley are now running for office in record-breaking numbers. ... Under a plain reading of the law, as applied to Ms. Shirley's facts, the answer to her question can only be 'yes,'" Clinton wrote.

Hopefully, this decision will mean that more women of different backgrounds will feel encouraged to run for office. As such, Americans from all walks of life will be better represented in Washington, D.C.

Like Shirley stated, many of the current members of Congress are wealthy. That’s because running a successful campaign takes a great deal of dedication. Poor or middle-class families have limited resources and require extra help to make sure their children are cared for while they pursue their political careers.

 Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Michael Kooren

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