September 12, 1989
Digest: A judge need not prohibit the judge’s law assistant, who is a member of the judge’s personal staff, from attending political fundraising events.
Rules: Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, section 100.3(b)(5)(ii) (22 NYCRR 100.3(b)(5)(ii))
A judge has requested the Committee’s opinion whether or not the judge’s law assistant, a member of the judge’s personal staff, may attend political fundraising events.
Rule 100.3(b)(5)(ii) of the Rules of Judicial Conduct of the Chief Administrator of the Courts (22 NYCRR 100.3[b][ii]) requires a judge to prohibit the judge’s personal appointees, who are members of the judge’s personal staff, from contributing more than three hundred dollars to any political campaign or partisan political activity in any one calendar year, including the contributions made by the purchase of tickets to political functions (as well as from engaging in certain other political activities, not relevant to this inquiry). This prohibition is applicable to the amount of money that an appointee may spend, but not to the employee’s mere attendance at the event. A reading of the rule to the contrary would render meaningless the language which allows the purchase of tickets to political events.
Therefore, a judge need not prohibit a member of the judge’s staff from attending a political fundraising event.