Josie Raymond is the Democratic nominee for state representative in District 31 and the mother of a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old. During this campaign season, Raymond says, she has relied on family and friends to watch her children, but she was curious whether candidates in Kentucky can use campaign funds to pay for child care.
She turned to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) for guidance, and according to a news release from Raymond, the answer is: yes but with a caveat.
KREF General Counsel Emily Dennis wrote in a letter dated Oct. 5 that while, “Kentucky’s campaign finance law does not specifically address childcare … if the childcare enables the candidate to promote his or her campaign in a reasonable way, then it could be considered an actual expense made directly and primarily in support of the candidate.”
“The bottom line is if childcare expenses are incurred as a direct result of campaign activity, then the childcare expenses may be permissibly paid with campaign fund[s],” Dennis wrote in the letter, which was provided by Raymond.
The KREF letter to the informal inquiry follows recent decisions from the Federal Election Commission, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas, stating that it is permissible to use campaign funds for child care. Connecticut and Iowa have denied similar requests.
Despite not using campaign funds for this purpose, Raymond said in the news release Monday that she sought the clarification because “I believe that this issue should be clear so that all parents in Kentucky who either are or are considering running for office are better informed about their options.”
In a followup email, Raymond said she was aware of “female candidates who have a lot of fear about spending campaign money on child care (whether it’s allowed and how it will be perceived), and I knew there was a national movement to clarify the legality of doing so, so I asked KREF for this clarification.”
In response to a question about how many hours she puts in on the campaign, she said at least 15 hours a week, which she has been doing for more than a year, “so that’s very conservatively 780 hours.”
Raymond added that “I do a lot of that after the kids are asleep, when they’re at daycare and I take a vacation day from work, or when my husband has them at home by himself. All that said, I could have spent thousands on additional child care.”
Raymond, who will square off against Republican Leigh Boland Jones on Nov. 6, stated in her release, “This is a huge victory for parents in Kentucky who know that the advice ‘Just take them with you!’ doesn’t work when a kid has to pee after knocking on 12 doors or a tired baby starts screaming when a fundraiser runs past bedtime.”
This post has been updated with additional comment from Raymond.