January 18, 1990
Digest: Unexpended campaign funds of a candidate for judicial office may be returned to the donors or used for a modest victory celebration, but may not be used to reimburse the candidate for personal expenses.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.7(b); Code of Judicial Conduct, Cannon 7(B)(2).
A recently re-elected judge has inquired as to the appropriate use of unexpended campaign contributions.
In Opinion 87-02, this Committee suggested that the appropriate method of disposing of unexpended campaign funds is to return them to the donors on a pro rata basis. In Opinion 87-16, this Committee also determined that it would be proper for a campaign committee to use campaign funds for a modest and reasonable victory reception for the judge.
Canon 7(B)(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that, “a candidate [for judicial office] should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family.” Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for a judge to accept reimbursement from the campaign committee for any expenses he or she incurred personally during the campaign.