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FEC: Childcare a legitimate campaign expense

(File photo)

(File photo)

The Federal Election Commission ruled that a congressional candidate can use donor funds to pay for childcare while she’s campaigning, removing a hurdle for those seeking office while raising kids and potentially opening the door to more women who want to enter politics.

The commission’s unanimous decision on Thursday grew out of a request by Liuba Grechen Shirley, a Long Island Democrat seeking to challenge Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

The commission ruled that any child-care costs resulting from her campaign could be covered by campaign funds “because such expenses would not exist irrespective of your candidacy.”

“Thank you to the FEC Commissioners for their unanimous vote to approve our request to use campaign funds for childcare! This is a game changer for women and parents considering a run for office.” Shirley tweeted after the ruling.

Before jumping into the Democratic primary race in New York, Shirley worked from home as a consultant and provided full-time child care for her children, ages 1 and 2, while her husband worked full-time outside the house. She sought a ruling from the FEC, which previously granted permission to use campaign funds for childcare in more limited cases.

Shirley, 36, said in an interview late last month that dealing with childcare can be a barrier to candidates. A positive ruling from the FEC would “change the way that parents of young children get involved.”

Shirley’s request garnered support from two dozen members of Congress and from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, whose lawyer submitted a letter on Shirley’s behalf to the FEC. “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 lawyer Marc Elias wrote.

Shirley is among the record number of women running for office in 2018. There are female candidates in about two thirds of 435 contests for the U.S. House

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