June 16, 1994
Digest: There no ethical prohibition against the spouse of a part-time judge being a town and county committee member of a political party.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.7; Opinions 90-88, Vol. VI; 91-85, Vol. VIII and 92-65; Vol. IX
The spouse of a part-time judge serves on the town and county committees of a political party and would like to continue those activities. The judge asks whether there is any ethical consideration that applies to the judge because of such spousal political involvement.
The Rules of the Chief Administrator do not permit a judge to engage in political campaigns except his or her own, when he or she is a candidate (22 NYCRR 100.7). But there is no rule against political activity by a spouse. In a prior opinion we concluded that a judge's spouse may serve as a member of a county political organization's Chairman's Club and contribute funds to other political candidates. (Opinion 90-88, Vol. VI.) We also found no prohibition against a judge's spouse serving as the campaign manager for a candidate seeking re-election to a political office. (Opinion 91-85, Vol. VIII.)
Specifically, it was our opinion that there was "... no ethical prohibition to the appointment of the judge's spouse as a county committee member to the vacancy created by the judge's election to judicial office." (Opinion 92-65, Vol. IX.)
We thus conclude that no violation of judicial ethics is presented by a judge's spouse serving as a member of committees of a town and county political party, provided that the judge personally refrains from political activity.