January 28, 1993
Digest: A judge, whose spouse is campaigning for political office, cannot accompany the spouse to political functions or contribute to the spouse-candidate’s campaign.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.7
A full-time Judge, whose spouse is campaigning for political office, inquires whether the judge may accompany his or her spouse to political and non-political functions and fundraisers, while the spouse is campaigning, and whether the judge may advise the spouse and donate to the spouse’s campaign.
Section 100.7 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator prohibits all political activity by judges except when they are candidates.
In Opinion 89-48, this Committee stated that a judge could not contribute to or participate in a spouse's political campaign, and could not escort the spouse to any political events. (See Matter of Edward A. Rath, Jr., dated February 21, 1989, in which the Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished the Judge for escorting his wife to political functions.) The judge, however, could escort the spouse “to affairs that are essentially civic, social, religious, community, cultural or recreational affairs, and are not politically sponsored, although the spouse’s attendance to such affairs during the campaign may be designed by the spouse to enhance the spouse’s candidacy, and although the spouse may engage in some personal campaigning during the course of such affairs.” The committee reaffirms Opinion 89-48.
The judge may not make donations or contributions to a spouse-candidate’s campaign, nor officially advise his or her spouse during the campaign, but the Committee is not suggesting any restrictions on private conversations between husband and wife.