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Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., cannot use campaign funds to pay a babysitter when he travels overseas, the Federal Election Commission ruled Monday.
However, the FEC did vote in favor of Swalwell using campaign funds to pay overnight childcare expenses when he travels for his own campaign and his spouse his not available to care for their children.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., listens as Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks during a news conference on the introduction of their Protection from Abusive Passengers Act at the U.S. Capitol Building on April 6, 2022, in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Swalwell’s foreign connections have come under scrutiny ever since he was linked to a Chinese spy operation that targeted him and other California politicians. According to a July 2021 report, Swalwell’s political operation was deeply penetrated by Chinese spy Fang Fang, who raised money for his campaigns, allegedly had an affair with him, and fled the United States. His political operation has also become known for lavish spending on overseas trips.
The FEC vote came nearly two weeks after a tense FEC meeting in which Republican Commissioner James E. “Trey” Trainor III publicly derided Swalwell’s request as “abhorrent.”
“To be real honest with you, I’m actually going to pass judgment on it,” Trainor said during a July 14 commission meeting. “I think it’s abhorrent that Congressman Swalwell would have such a young child and want to leave them in the care of someone else, for a week-long trip overseas and using donor contributions to pay for that. I think it’s inappropriate we even had to address this question.”
His comments prompted a rebuke from Democratic FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who tweeted she had “never seen a requestor treated so disrespectfully by a member of this Commission.”
“This is the United States of America, not the Republic of Gilead,” Weintraub said, referencing The Handmaid’s Tale. “The @FEC enforces the law. We do not ‘pass judgement’ on the personal lives of those who come before us asking for guidance.”
In response to her tweet, Trainor shot back: “I’ve never seen campaign donors treated so disrespectfully! The Republic will persevere even if Swalwell doesn’t get all the junkets he’d like.”
The FEC voted against Swalwell on the use of campaign funds to pay for babysitting during foreign travel by a count of 5-0.