November 3, 2006
This responds to your inquiry (06-142) as to the propriety of a letter your spouse proposes to send to his/her friends, expressing his/her support and soliciting their support for a candidate for the United States Congress. The copy of the draft letter you provided refers to you by name and indicates that you and your spouse have known the candidate for many years, and that in the past you and the candidate worked together closely.
Section 100.5 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from engaging either directly or indirectly in any political activity except as authorized by the Rules and the law. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1). As a judge, you are specifically prohibited from publicly endorsing another candidate for public office. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(e).
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not impose obligations upon judges’ spouses. Nevertheless, actions taken by one spouse could readily be attributable to the other. In the case of your spouse’s proposed letter, it would not be unreasonable for a recipient of the letter to assume that it also evinces your support for the candidate for the United States Congress. For this reason, we believe you should make a concerted effort to convince your spouse to refrain from referring to you in any communications he/she sends expressing and/or seeking support for a candidate for elective public office.