Ohio Sen. Tina Maharath introduces invoice to make use of marketing campaign funds with youngster care
Senator Tina Maharath, D-Canal Winchester, is the first Asian American Senator in Ohio and the only Democrat in Ohio to move a GOP-run Senate seat since 2006. She is also a single mother.
When Maharath was campaigning, she couldn’t afford childcare – so she brought her son with her.
“He was basically my campaign manager,” Maharath said with a laugh. “I’m also fortunate that he was a toddler. Can you imagine a newborn baby running for office as a single parent?”
Maharath hopes to make the candidacy a little easier for mothers like her. Their bill, Senate Bill 122, would allow Ohio political candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare – as long as those funds are a direct result of campaign activity.
The Center for Community Solutions reported that two in five children in Ohio live in a single-parent household. Single-parent households, especially those run by mothers, tend to be more impoverished.
Maharath believes the law will not only help single mothers – working parents and other families who do not fit into a traditional nuclear family with a stay-at-home parent would also benefit.
At the federal level, candidates are already allowed to use campaign funds for childcare. Federal election campaign spending on childcare has risen steadily since the Federal Election Commission changed the rules in 2018. There are 17 states that allow candidates to spend campaign funds on childcare, and several states have proposed laws to do so.
A report from Vote Mama, a nonprofit founded by the first woman to be approved by the FEC to use campaign funds for childcare, found that 73% of campaign funds were spent on childcare for women. About 45% of the funds were spent by colored people.
The issue is supported by both parties – while Democrats tend to use campaign funds for childcare, federal and state candidates from both parties have spent campaign funds on childcare. In Ohio, Maharath’s bill does not currently find Republican support, but Maharath said it was actively working with Republican lawmakers.
“This is an opportunity to give socio-economically disadvantaged people more opportunities to run for office,” Maharath said. “It is time that the people are represented by the people and work for the people.”
Grace Deng is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.