November 8, 2001
This is in response to your inquiry (01-81) concerning the disposition of unused campaign funds arising out of your recent candidacy for judicial office. As explained in your letter, you terminated your candidacy shortly before "petition time," having decided not to run in the primary.
Under the aforesaid circumstances, your ethical obligation is to return the funds to the donors on a pro rata basis. Under no circumstances may you retain the funds for use in a possible future campaign, even if consent is obtained from the donors. Further, although there is no specified time frame to effectuate the return, it should be done as soon as possible.
The views expressed herein have been set forth in numerous opinions of the Committee. See e.g., Opinions 88-89 (Vol. II); 89-152 (Vol. V); 90-6 (Vol. V); 91-12 (Vol. VII); 92-68 (Vol. IX); 92-94 (Vol. X); 93-15 (Vol. XI); 96-71 (Vol. XIV); 97-04 (Vol. XV); 99-56 (Vol. XVII).