November 30, 2007
This responds to your inquiry (07-118) regarding whether you may serve as the “Honorary Chairman” of a charitable fund-raiser. You state that your role will not be listed on the invitation or otherwise publicized, and that you will not be the guest of honor or participate in fund-raising activities.
The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a sitting judge from serving as a speaker or guest of honor at fund-raising events, or from soliciting funds for any organization. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(b)(ii). This Committee has previously advised, however, that a judge may present or accept an award at a charitable fund-raising event, provided that the judge’s role is unadvertised and ancillary to the event. Opinion 04-141; 01-51; 99-19 (Vol. Vol. XVII).
Similarly, you may serve as Honorary Chairman at a charitable fund-raiser, provided that your role is unadvertised and ancillary to the event, and provided further that, as you state, you will not be the guest of honor or participate in any fund-raising activities.
I have enclosed copies of Opinions 04-141, 01-51 and 99-19 for your reference and consideration.