Erie County Clerk candidate Angela Marinucci announced today that she will be reporting her out-of-pocket expenses for child care as in-kind contributions to her campaign on her latest campaign filing. Her campaign also amended previous filings to reflect the amount she has paid for child care since she became a full-time candidate on June 1. Marinucci’s decision comes in the wake of decisions by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and New York State Board of Elections that permit candidates to claim child care costs as campaign expenses. Although she is not using campaign funds for child care expenses, Marinucci felt compelled to report this information in the interest of transparency and because she believes that citing child care expenses as in-kind contributions will become more common as women run for office in increasing numbers.
Marinucci has taken a leave of absence from her full-time legal practice while she runs for Clerk. “As a full-time attorney, paying for child care expenses is part of the cost of doing business. In my generation, two working parents is the norm. Most couples have student loans and mortgages, in addition to the costs associated with raising children. It takes two incomes for most families in America today.”
In June, the New York State Board of Elections issued a draft of an advisory position in June that concluded that campaign funds “may be used to pay childcare expenses if the expenses are incurred as a direct result of the guardian’s participation in a campaign activity or in connections with the execution of the duties of public office or party position.”
“The US ranks 104th in the world for women’s participation in government, and here at home we have no women in countywide elected office,” noted Marinucci. “Women are running in unprecedented numbers in 2018, but there are hidden hurdles to women’s participation in politics, and child care is a major factor. If my husband and I were not able to afford child care, it would impact the amount of time I would be able to spend on the campaign trail.” Marinucci believes her perspective as a working mother will be a benefit to the office. She has pledged to improve facilities at DMV locations so that each location has public bathrooms, and as a parent of a child with allergies, she want to expand the Child ID program to allow parents include their children’s medical information.
Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte, who ran for Clerk in 2011 praised Marinucci for highlighting the issue: “Angela is calling attention to an issue that often comes between women and their desire to serve in public office, especially county-wide or state level positions. When I ran for County Clerk in 2011, I had the good fortune of a mother-in-law who was incredibly generous with her time and willing to provide child care five days a week. Not everyone is that lucky, and we must start to recognize and respond to the added challenges faced by moms who become candidates.”
“For 25 years the TAP Fund has been a partner to women hoping to bring their perspective to government at every level in Western New York and New York State,” said Dr. Jane Griffin one of the founders and a former chair of the Women’s TAP Fund. “Angela Marinucci’s decision to make childcare part of the equation in terms of campaign cost underscores what so many women face when they make the decision to pursue elected office. Those barriers are real and still exist, and they will only fall when more candidates like Angela push back.”
“This is the first time a local candidate has talked so openly and directly about the unique financial and family burdens that fall on women candidates,” said Barbara Schifeling, Chair of the TAP Fund’s Steering Committee. “Like so many other working mothers who would like to have a say in the making of public policy, Angela Marinucci is faced with hard choices that too often force talented people to stay away from the political arena. With today’s announcement, she is setting an important precedent and showing genuine leadership on this important question.”
Angela Marinucci is running because the Erie County Clerk’s Office plays a vital part in so many of our major milestones: getting a driver’s license, buying a home, starting a business. She wants to increase accountability to taxpayers, cut wait times, and use technology to improve services. She lives with her husband and three children on Grand Island.