Topic: Attendance by a judicial candidate at a political dinner on behalf of another candidate.
Digest: A judicial candidate may purchase a ticket to and attend a political dinner held solely on behalf of another candidate.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §§100.7(a)(1); 100.7(a)(2); 100.7(b).
A judicial candidate asks whether it is permissible to attend a political dinner given solely for another political candidate.
The permissible activities of a judicial candidate are set forth in sections 100.7 (a)(1) and (2) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator [22 NYCRR] as follows:
No judge during a term of office shall hold any office in a political party or organization or contribute to any political party or political campaign or take part in any political campaign except his or her own campaign for elective judicial office. Political activity prohibited by this section includes:
(a) The purchase, directly or indirectly, of tickets to politically sponsored dinners or other affairs, or attendance at such dinners or other affairs, including dinners or affairs sponsored by a political organization for a nonpolitical purpose, except as follows:
(1) This limitation shall not apply during a period beginning nine months before a primary election, judicial nominating convention, party caucus or other party meeting for nominating a candidate for elective judicial office for which the judge is an announced candidate, or for which a committee or other organization has publicly solicited or supported his or her candidacy, and ending, if the judge is a candidate in the general election for that office, six months after the general election. If the judge is not a candidate in the general election, this period shall end on the date of the primary elections, convention, caucus or meeting.
(2) During the period defined in paragraph (1) of this subdivision:
( i) A judge may attend a fund-raising dinner or affair on behalf of the judge’s own candidacy, but may not personally solicit contributions at such dinner or affair.
(ii) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of this section, a judge may purchase a ticket to a politically sponsored dinner or other affair even where the regular cost of a ticket to such dinner or affair exceeds the proportionate cost of the dinner or affair.
(iii) Notwithstanding subdivisions ( c) and (d) of this section, a judge may attend a politically sponsored dinner or affair in support of a slate of candidates, and may appear on podiums or in photographs on political literature with the candidates who make up that slate, provided that the judge is part of the slate of candidates.
During the prescribed period of a judge’s candidacy for judicial office, the judicial candidate is relieved of the general prohibition against political activity to the limited extent described in section 100.7 (a) (2). This section expressly permits judicial candidates to attend fundraising dinners on behalf of the judge’s own candidacy and politically sponsored dinners in support of a slate of candidates, provded that the judge is a part of the slate of candidates. Section 100.7 (a) (2) (ii) expressly permits the judge to purchase tickets to any political dinner without limiting such purchase to either the candidate’s own dinner or to a dinner on behalf of a slate of candidates of which he is part. Although the language of the rule and the juxtaposition of these provisions is somewhat confusing, the Committee believes that a candidate may buy tickets and attend the dinner of another political candidate during the nine-month candidacy period.
This opinion is advisory only and does not bind either the Office of Court Administration or the Commission on Judicial Conduct.