March 11, 1999
A recently-elected judge may use campaign funds to purchase the lowest
priced advertisement in a journal, in which the judge's supporters are
thanked, where the journal is being distributed at a politically sponsored
dinner held after the election but during the Window Period.
Election Law §17-162; 22 NYCRR 100.0 (Q);
A judge, who was recently elected to the bench, asks if it is permissible to thank supporters through the purchase, with campaign treasury funds, of an advertisement expressing thanks, in a journal being published by a political organization in conjunction with a politically sponsored dinner. The dinner will take place after the election but within the Window Period during which the judge may attend politically sponsored affairs. 22 NYCRR 100.0 (Q); 100.5(A)(2)(v). The judge's campaign treasury intends to purchase the lowest priced advertisement.
A judge may not make contributions, either directly or indirectly, to any political organization. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(h). However, a judge may purchase tickets to and attend politically sponsored dinners or other affairs during the Window Period related to that judge's election or re-election to judicial office. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(v).
The fact that the notice of thanks is to be published in a journal after the election does not make its publication improper. That is, section 100.5(A)(2)(v) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct does not distinguish between pre- and post election activities in this regard. Therefore, the purchase of the lowest priced advertisement in a journal distributed at a politically sponsored dinner which the judge is permitted to attend, in order to thank a large number of supporters for their role in electing the judge is not improper.
However, we note that the inquirer did not specify the price of the lowest cost advertisement. Accordingly, we alert the judge to Opinion 98-107, in which the Committee concluded that a payment of $3,000 for a ticket to a political dinner during the Window Period could only be regarded as an impermissible political contribution. See also, Election Law §17-162.