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AO 2019-13: Use of campaign funds for childcare expenses – FEC.gov

Campaign funds may be used to pay for a candidate’s childcare expenses that are incurred as a direct result of campaign activity.

Background

Mary Jennings Hegar is a candidate in the 2020 election for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Prior to becoming a candidate, she had a career in the military and as an author and public speaker. Ms. Hegar left her job to work full-time on her campaign and is unable to provide full-time care for her children. Her husband is also unable to provide full-time care for their children due to his full-time job. Accordingly, Ms. Hegar and her authorized campaign committee, MJ for Texas, ask if the committee may use campaign funds to pay for the candidate’s campaign-related childcare expenses. Ms. Hegar further proposes to reimburse MJ for Texas for any child care costs she may incur that are unrelated to the campaign.

Analysis

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 childcare expenses. The Commission therefore examined whether the proposed childcare expenses would exist irrespective of Ms. Hegar’s campaign for federal office. The Commission considered its previous decisions in advisory opinions and concluded the facts in advisory opinion 2018-06 were similar to this case in that the candidate needed full-time child care, including evening and weekend care, so she could devote more time to her campaign.

Consistent with that precedent, the Commission concluded that childcare expenses that are a direct result of Ms. Hegar’s campaign activity would not exist irrespective of her campaign. As such, MJ for Texas may use its campaign funds to pay for those expenses, to the extent they are incurred as a direct result of campaign activity. Finally, the Commission determined that Ms. Hegar’s proposal to reimburse the campaign for childcare costs incurred at times she is not campaigning would help to ensure that campaign funds are used only for activities that directly result from campaigning.

Date issued: July 25, 2019; Length: 4 pages

Citations

Regulations

11 CFR 113.1(g)
Definition of personal use

Advisory opinions

AO 2018-06
Use of campaign funds for candidate’s childcare expenses

Resources

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