June 12, 2003
Digest: A law clerk who is a judge’s personal appointee should not act as treasurer for a political candidate’s campaign.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(C)(3); Opinion 93-36 (Vol. XI).
A judge has asked whether a law clerk who is the judge’s personal appointee can act as treasurer for a political candidate’s campaign. As treasurer, the law clerk would keep and prepare financial disclosure statements as required by law, receive and deposit contributions, and pay bills.
Section 100.5(C)(3) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge’s personal appointees from engaging in certain political activities, including “. . . personally soliciting funds in connection with a partisan political purpose, or personally selling tickets to or promoting a fund-raising activity of a political candidate, political party, or partisan political club. . . ” In Opinion 93-36 (Vol. XI), this Committee advised that a county court judge's law clerk may accept a volunteer position in a political campaign to solicit and coordinate volunteers, designate persons to organize volunteer efforts, canvass for signatures on nominating petitions, and conduct telephone polls to identify and foster candidate support, all activities that would not involve the law clerk in the solicitation of funds, either directly or indirectly.
In the present inquiry, however, the functions of a treasurer for a political candidate’s campaign are so closely related to the solicitation of funds on behalf of the candidate that it is unlikely the law clerk can avoid involvement in the activities prohibited by section 100.5(C)(3). It is the Committee’s opinion, therefore, that a law clerk who is a judge’s personal appointee should not act as treasurer for a political candidate’s campaign.