AG opinion: Campaign funds can be used for childcare expenses
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has issued an official opinion that concludes “a candidate may use campaign funds for childcare expenses if those expenses are the direct result of campaign activity and would not exist irrespective of the campaign.”
The opinion is in line with two advisory opinions issued by the Federal Elections Commission that concluded “that a candidate may use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses to the extent the expenses were the ‘direct result of campaign activity’ and would, therefore, ‘not exist irrespective of [the requestor’s] campaign.’”
Herring issued the opinion at the request of Sen. Jennifer McClellan and other members of the General Assembly.
“Childcare is an essential service for candidates who have children, but who also need to be out in their communities campaigning,” Herring said. “Parents who want to run for elected office should not be limited because they also have children that they need to take care of. The ability to use campaign funds for campaign-related childcare will make it easier for parents to run for office if they wish to and become more involved in their communities.”
As Herring explains in the opinion, “[p]ursuant to § 24.2-945.1, expenditures under Virginia campaign finance law are those expenses incurred for ‘the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate’.” He adds that, “[i]n my opinion, childcare expenses that would not exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign are expenditures under § 24.2-945.1.” In the opinion, Herring also says that, “[s]everal states with similar campaign finance statutes have authorized the use of campaign funds to cover the cost of childcare expenses that are the direct result of campaigning.”
In the opinion, Herring says, “Virginia’s campaign finance statutes allow for the use of campaign funds for childcare expenses if those expenses are the direct result of campaign activity. Such an expense is no different from paying for services such as those of campaign staff because without it, the individual would be prevented from expressly advocating for their election to elected office and for the defeat of their opponent.”