September 12, 1991
Digest: A judge's campaign committee may use unexpended campaign contributions to purchase word processing and computer equipment and microphones solely for use in the court.
Rules: Election Law §14-130, Canon 7(b)(2) Code of Judicial Conduct.
A judge inquires whether it is permissible for the judge’s campaign committee to use unexpended campaign contributions to update word processing and computer equipment in the court and purchase microphones solely for use in the judge's courtroom. The judge indicates that it is impossible for a juror to hear either the lawyer presenting a case or a witness on the stand when the air conditioning equipment is in use in the courtroom.
Canon 7(b)(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct States that a judicial candidate “should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself....” Section 14-130 of the Election Law forbids campaign expenditures “unrelated to holding of public office.” By implication, these provisions permit the use of unexpended campaign funds, if the expenditure io related to the holding of public office, and there is no appearance of personal or private benefit to the judge. Accordingly, the judge may use the unexpended funds to purchase word processing and computer equipment and microphones for use in the court, as this expenditure clearly is related to the holding of public office, and does not constitute a private benefit to the judge.