Plan to allow use of campaign money for child care is rejected in Iowa House

DES MOINES — A bid to let Iowa political candidates use campaign funds to pay for child care while a parent is campaigning has failed in the Iowa House.

Representative Heather Matson of Ankeny says her Democratic Primary opponent raised the issue last year and Matson says the FEDERAL Election Commission is now letting FEDERAL candidates pay for child care expenses with campaign funds. “Who are we leaving out of the conversation on the critical issues that affect all Iowans when we say you must shoulder the burden of a campaign expense out of your own limited pocketbook?” Matson asked.

Matson, the mother of nine-year-old twins, says the going rate for a babysitter in central Iowa is 10 dollars an hour and — by her calculation — she would have spent 25-hundred dollars on child care while she was knocking on doors on weeknights.   “My first thought: ‘Wow. That’s a lot of money!'” Matson said. “My second thought: ‘Is there a more legitimate campaign expense than what would allow a candidate to be able to do direct voter contact at the doors?””

Matson’s proposal called for candidates to prove they were engaged in legitimate campaign activities and it would not have allowed a candidate to pay a spouse or relative to babysit their kids. The Republican majority in the House rejected the idea.  “I don’t think we’re quite ready to make such a significant change in our campaign funding laws. I know we all make various types of sacrifices to be here,.” said Representative Andy McKean, a Republican from Anamosa.

This past summer, members of the State Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclosure Board said it was up to the legislature to decide if child care for a candidate’s kids was a legitimate campaign expense.

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