Opinion: 98-22
January 29, 1998
Digest:    The spouse of a judge may contribute to a political campaign or organization provided that the contribution is not actually the indirect contribution of the judge.

Rules:    22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1), 100.5(A)(1)(h).


            A judge asks if it is permissible for the judge's spouse to contribute money to partisan political organizations. In the instant case, the judge's spouse has the same last name as the judge and earns a salary in excess of $50,000 per year. The contributions would be made through use of a check or checks which do not depict the judge's name and are "drawn on a checking account which the judge is not a signatory or beneficiary to...".

            The Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a judge from making a contribution to a political organization, either directly or indirectly. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1) and 100.5(A)(1)(h).
A spouse of a judge may be politically active and may contribute to a political campaign or organization as long as that activity or contribution is not, in reality, the indirect activity or contribution of the judge. The fact that, in this instance, the spouse has independent income and the contributions are to come from a checking account in which the judge has no interest are factors which indicate that the contribution appears to be solely from the spouse, and not indirectly from the judge. If this is indeed the fact, the contribution would not constitute a violation of the rules by the judge.