January 12, 2011
This responds to your inquiry (10-159) asking whether you may participate in an annual dinner to honor all the local senior citizens in your community. You have advised that the ******** recruits elected and public officials to volunteer to serve dinners during the event, that there is no charge for the dinner and that those who volunteer to serve dinners are permitted to have one dinner after all the guests have been served. However, you indicate that you will not partake in a meal.
A judge is prohibited from personally participating in fund-raising activities (see 22 NYCRR 100.4 [C][b][i]). However, the Committee previously has advised that if a judge is not involved in selling tickets to an event or in any other way involved in soliciting or collecting money either before or during an event, but is simply engaged in “behind the scenes” activities, such as general setup, food preparation, food service, and cleanup, then he/she may participate in the event without violating the rules that prohibit a judge from soliciting funds or engaging in other fund-raising activities (see Opinion 10-22). Therefore, you may volunteer to serve dinners during the ******* annual dinner to honor all the local senior citizens in your community.
I have enclosed Opinion 10-22 for your information.