Opinion 88-26

March 14, 1988


Topic:          Appearance of Judge’s name on a written invitation of a political club fund-raising dinner and the Judge’s purchase of a more expensive sponsor’s or patron’s ticket to the dinner.


Digest:         Where the Judge is a candidate for election, the Judge may purchase only the lowest priced ticket to a political club fundraising dinner, and may not list his name on the dinner invitation.


Rules:          22 NYCRR §100.2; §100.7(a)(1) and (2)(ii); Election Law §17-162.


         A judge who is running for election inquires whether he may permit a political club to list his name as a contributor on an invitation to a fundraising dinner, and whether he may purchase a more expensive ticket to the dinner in the “sponsor” or “patron” category.

         The rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts permit some political involvement when a judge is an announced candidate. [22 NYCRR §100.7 (a) (1)]. As an announced judicial candidate, the judge may purchase a ticket to a politically sponsored dinner even when the ticket cost exceeds the proportionate cost of the dinner [22 NYCRR §100.7 (a)(2)(ii)]. Where, however, the more expensive tickets available are denominated in a category entitled “Sponsor" or "Patron”, the judge candidate is making a personal contribution for political activity which is prohibited by statute from buying the tickets. [Election Law §17-162]. Accordingly, the judge candidate may purchase the lowest priced dinner ticket to the political club fundraiser, but should not purchase the more expensive tickets denominated as “Sponsor” or “Patron”.

         The judge candidate may not permit his name to appear as a "Contributor” on the political club's written dinner invitation for its fundraiser (Election Law §17-162, supra).

         This Opinion is advisory only and is not binding upon either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.