Ethics Commission decision called a ‘major step forward’ for women running for office

FROM STAFF REPORTS

State House of Representatives candidate Dr. Jenn Gray said today that the Alabama Ethics Commission’s decision to allow the use of campaign funds for child care will pave the way for more women to run for office in the state.

Gray decided to run for office following the near defeat of the Alabama Autism Bill in 2017. The grassroots advocacy of families impacted by autism, like her own, was essential to the successful passage of the bill that covers nearly a million Alabamians. As a member of the inaugural class of Emerge Alabama, which recruits and trains women who want to run for office, Gray learned from Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Thomas B. Albritton that childcare was not an allowable expense for campaign funds.

Gray requested a specific ruling, following the May 3 advisory opinion by the counsel of the Federal Election Commission which authorized a Congressional candidate’s use of campaign funds to provide child care expenses.

She cited the “but for” guideline for use of campaign funds. As described in a 2016 ruling, “the expense may be paid for with campaign funds if it would not exist ‘but for’ the person’s status as a candidate or officeholder.”

Commission chair Jerry Fielding remarked that it was necessary for him to pay for childcare when he first ran for circuit judge.

“It looks like a very logical request,” Fielding said. “If we let people pay for automobile expenses and other things like that, we ought to be able to pay for childcare.”

“This is great news not only for me, but for all parents of children who require care in order to meet campaign obligations such as fundraising, canvassing and meeting with city officials and business leaders,” Gray said. “Women currently are only 15 percent of our elected officials at the state level although we are 52 percent of the state population. This ruling will allow more women the opportunity to earn a position serving their communities.”

Gray is the Democratic nominee for House District 45, which includes parts of Jefferson and Shelby counties.

She can be reached through her website, Votejenngray.com, at votejenngray@gmail.com, or by phone at 240-1470.