Opinion 03-122 (Formerly 03-122a)


April 29, 2004


Please review Opinion 08-196 before relying on this opinion to calculate the start of the window period for a candidate for Supreme Court.

 

Digest:         (1) A judge who is also a candidate for a Supreme Court nomination may attend political functions for a period commencing nine months prior to the judicial nominating convention and ending six months after the judicial nominating convention even if the judge is not chosen as the nominee at the judicial nominating convention. (2) A judicial candidate, during his/her Window Period, may attend and purchase two tickets to a function for another candidate in another judicial district, other than the district in which the judge is running. (3) A judicial candidate’s campaign committee may, within the applicable Window Period, hold a post-election fund-raising event in order to raise funds to pay outstanding election debts to third parties, and the candidate may attend the event. (4) A judicial candidate, may substitute a personal check for a campaign committee check when purchasing up to two tickets to another candidate’s fund-raising event when the latter candidate cannot accept a campaign committee's check due to NYC Campaign Finance Board legal requirements.

 

Rules:          22 NYCRR100.0(Q); 100.5(A)(2)(v); Opinions 96-31 (Vol. XIV); 97-41 (Vol. XV); 98-146 (Vol. XVII).


Opinion:


         A judge who anticipates running for higher judicial office asks several questions regarding proper political campaign activity. The questions posed are incorporated in the responses below.


         A judge who is a candidate for a Supreme Court nomination may attend political functions for a period commencing nine months before the judicial nominating convention and ending six months after the judicial nominating convention even if the judge is not chosen as the nominee at the convention. 22 NYCRR100.0(Q); 100.5(A)(2). There is no geographic limitation on the judge’s attendance at such events. Specifically, a judicial candidate may attend and purchase two tickets to a function for another candidate in another judicial district other than the district in which the judge is running, so long as all other criteria authorizing the judge to attend are met. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(v). The tickets may be purchased by the judge’s campaign committee, or the judge personally with the judge’s personal checks or by other individuals. However, the judge should refer to the Election Law to determine if the cost of the ticket to the affair being paid for by a third person must also be reported by the judge’s campaign committee as a donation or loan to the campaign.


         A judicial candidate’s campaign committee may, within the applicable Window Period, hold a post-election fund-raising event in order to raise funds to pay outstanding election debts to third parties. Opinions 96-31 (Vol. XIV); 98-146 (Vol. XVII). The judge may attend such an event. Opinion 97-41 (Vol. XV). It is advisable that the judge’s committee disclose that funds raised will be used to pay off the debts of the unsuccessful campaign.


         The inquiring judge’s final question involves matching funds from the NYC Campaign Finance Board. The judge asks, in effect, if it is permissible to substitute a personal check, at the request of another candidate, after the judge’s campaign committee check is sent to purchase tickets to that candidate’s political fund-raising event and the check is returned on the ground that the committee campaign check “...cannot be accepted as your committee is not registered with the NYC Finance Board...” Assuming that the inquiring judge’s representation that the other candidate’s committee cannot legally accept the committee check is correct, and that all criteria which would allow the judge to purchase the tickets and attend this event are met, there would be no impropriety if the judge were to substitute a personal check for the committee check. Since the judge would be authorized by the rules to attend, payment in a legally required manner would not be prohibited. The payment may not exceed the cost of the ticket.


         Finally, as to all questions raised, it is the judge's obligation to comply with all provisions of the Election Law that may be applicable to the various situations presented in the inquiry.