December 6, 2007
Digest: A Court Attorney/Referee may not write a letter in support of a candidate for election to a municipal water board.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5; 100.5(A)(1)(e). Opinions 98-46 (Vol. XVI); 95-119 (Vol. XIII).
A full-time Court Attorney/Referee asks if he/she may write a letter supporting a candidate for election to the board of a local water district board. The inquirer indicates that the candidate is not endorsed by a political party, the letter will not be written on official stationery, nor will it include his/her judicial title.
This Committee previously has determined that the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct apply to Court Attorney/Referees as quasi-judicial officials, including the provisions of §100.5 concerning participation in political activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.5; Opinions 98-46 [Vol. XVI]; 95-119 [Vol. XIII]).
Here, although the candidate is not endorsed by a political party, he/she is nevertheless seeking election to a public office. A judge or quasi-judicial official may not publicly endorse another candidate for public office (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][e]; Opinion 95-119[Vol. XIII]). A court attorney/referee, therefore, may not write a letter to support a candidate for a municipal water board.