Congressional candidate can use campaign cash for child care

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York congressional candidate given permission Thursday to use campaign funds for child care expenses called the decision by federal officials “a game changer” for mothers as a record number of women run for office.

The Federal Election Commission voted 4-0 to allow the expenditure by Liuba Grechen Shirley, who is running in a Democratic primary in the Long Island district currently represented by Republican Rep. Peter King.

The FEC had previously permitted tapping campaign funds for “occasional” child care, but the 36-year-old candidate required more consistent care for her 2- and 3-year-old children as she ran for office.

“This is a game changer for moms and working parents across the country who are thinking about running for office but don’t know how to juggle going without a salary and taking on the extra childcare expenses,” Grechen Shirley posted on Facebook.

The ruling is expected to apply to other candidates who want to use campaign funds for new childcare expenses created by them campaigning.

“It’s an added campaign expense; the same as opening an office or installing safety lights on a candidate’s house,” said Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications for Emily’s List, a group working to help Democratic women run for office.

Before running for Congress, Grechen Shirley worked from home as consultant and cared for her children full-time. Her husband works full time.

Since March, she has paid a baby sitter $22 an hour from campaign funds to watch her two children, according to Newsday.

Grechen Shirley is among a record number of women running for the U.S. House, many of them Democrats motivated animated by dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Her request to the FEC drew support from fellow-Democrat Hillary Clinton and from more than two-dozen members of Congress.

“By allowing candidates to use their private campaign funds to pay for childcare, the FEC is opening the door for working parents to have a voice in elective politics,” Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama said in a statement. “This decision brings us closer to creating a representative government that reflects the diversity of the American public.”