Virginia candidates can use political funds on campaign-related child care expenses, AG Herring says

Capitol Connection
Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol in July 2019. (Photo: Dean Mirshahi)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In an official opinion, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says candidates can use political donations for child care expenses that “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,” Herring asserts in the opinion issued Friday.

The opinion from Herring, who is seeking a third term against Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach), aligns with a 2018 ruling from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that campaign-related child care expenses can be paid for with campaign contributions because those expenses “would not exist irrespective” of political activity.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, including former gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), requested the formal opinion from Herring’s office.

“Childcare is an essential service for candidates who have children, but who also need to be out in their communities campaigning,” Herring said in a statement Friday.

Herring’s opinion comes after the Joint Subcommittee to Study Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform held its first meeting in late August. The new state panel is reviewing Virginia’s disclosure laws and potential campaign finance reforms for a report that must go to the Virginia General Assembly by Nov. 1.

“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,” Herring continued.

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