Texas Commission to Rule on Candidate's Child Care Request

A Wichita County Commissioner candidate is requesting approval to use political contributions to pay for campaign-related child care expenses

The Texas Ethics Commission will soon rule on a female candidate's request to pay for campaign-related child care expenses with political contributions.

Wichita County Commissioner candidate Catie Robinson filed a request with the commission last month for an advisory opinion on allowing all Texas candidates to use campaign funds for child care expenses. The commission has sent Robinson a draft of a favorable opinion and its decision Wednesday could set a statewide precedent, the Times Record News reported.

The move follows the Federal Election Commission's approval in May for federal candidates to do so. The child care expenses must be incurred as a direct result of campaigning under the federal commission's approval.

Texas candidates are currently restricted from using political donations for personal purposes, but the commission can provide guidance through an advisory opinion.

"A political campaign is a full time job, and one that is unpaid," Robinson said.

Robinson was a stay-at-home mother with two girls. She began incurring child care expenses while campaigning so she started working as a barista at Starbucks.

"It's not a question of being able to personally afford childcare," she said. "If the cost is directly related to the campaign, then campaign funds should be allowed to be used."

Robinson said, "I really believe that this might be the deciding factor for lots of other Texans out there who may be on the fence about running for office, so I am really happy to be a part of it."

Robinson's opponent, incumbent Commissioner Jeff Watts, has publicly criticized her request and questioned where to draw the line when using contributions for personal expenses.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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