Morgan Lamandre is running for a Louisiana House seat in 2019, but as a mother, she’s also running into a bizarre problem: how to pay for childcare.
When Lamandre asked the state ethics board if she could use election funds to cover her child care costs, the answer was a resolute “no.” The 35-year-old mom of two claims that election officials called it a “misplaced priority” in a 5-2 vote against her request at a November 16 meeting.
According to Lamandre, one of the board members, 76-year-old Charles Emile “Peppi” Bruneau Jr., told her, “Nobody forces you to run for public office. But you have a child, and that is your primary responsibility, to provide for that child.” And while Lamandre, who’s an attorney for sexual assault survivors, agrees that her family comes first, she also believes that raising her two kids shouldn’t stop her from running for office just because of the high price tag.
Today I was told by the Ethics Bd. I cannot use campaign funds to pay for childcare for campaign activities even though three individuals, all men, have been permitted to use their funds for the same exact purpose in the past. Just one more reason why I am running for office! pic.twitter.com/KvJQc1HlbH
— Morgan Lamandre (@MorganLamandre) November 16, 2018
Lamandre’s concern about the cost of child care is backed by recent data that shows the average family spent $10,000 (or 16% of their household budget) on daycare last year. She argues that the steep cost is a major barrier to entry for working parents to get involved in politics.
“This gives the opportunity for two working parents to be able to run for office that wouldn’t otherwise have the extra funds to be able to run for office,” Lamandre explained. “This allows more people to represent who is in our state, who is in our communities,” she said. “It gives more people a chance to actually have reflective representation.”
Her plea has been echoed in six other states this year, where female candidates have sought permission to use campaign funds to pay for child care directly tied to the election (like during fundraisers or campaign-related travel). And closer to home, Louisiana State Senator J.P. Morrell has responded to Lamandre’s social media push for writing child care expenses into election law, tweeting that he is working on a “legislative fix.”