The Federal Election Commission told Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) Thursday that she can use campaign funds to pay for better security at her family home following January’s assassination attempt.
Two weeks ago, the Giffords campaign asked the agency whether it could spend $2,200 in campaign funds to upgrade exterior lighting and locks and install a duress alarm button at her home. The request followed Giffords’ wounding in a shooting spree earlier this year that left six people dead and 13 others injured in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson.
The man accused of shooting Giffords, Jared Loughner, was recently determined to be mentally unfit to stand trial. He is currently being forcibly medicated at a federal facility in an attempt to restore his competency. He has pleaded not guilty to the 49 federal charges against him.
The FEC approved Giffords’ request by a unanimous vote, saying that it would not be a violation of campaign regulations to use campaign funds for such costs. Most expenses that would not be incurred unless running for office are allowed to be paid for with campaign contributions.
“We all hope that the alarm is never triggered,” said FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat. “This was perhaps the easiest request that we have gotten in the last three years.”
The FEC’s decision was never really in doubt after the agency approved a similar opinion this year for Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and a parallel 2009 request from Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.)
At Thursday’s meeting, the FEC also delayed ruling whether a Guyana-born American citizen can be considered a presidential candidate by the agency’s regulations and receive public financing.
Correction: Sept. 1, 2011
An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.).