April 18, 2002
Digest: Campaign contributions should not be used topurchase tickets formembers of the judge’s campaign committee to attend politically sponsored dinners and functions held during the judge’s Window Period.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.0(Q); 100.2(A); 100.5(A)(2)(v); 100.5(A)(5); Opinion 92-97 (Vol. X).
A judge who is a candidate for judicial office asks whether the judge’s campaign committee can use campaign contributions to purchase tickets for campaign committee members to attend politically sponsored dinners and functions held during the judge’s Window Period. While the campaign contributions include personal funds contributed by the judge, the committee has raised additional funds that are sufficient to cover the cost of the tickets.
During the Window Period [22 NYCRR 100.0(Q)], a judge may purchase two tickets to and attend politically sponsored dinners and other functions. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(v). In addition, a judge who is a candidate for judicial office may establish a campaign committee to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions to support the judge’s campaign. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5).
The purpose of the two-ticket rule is a recognition that a judge might be expected to attend such dinners or functions with his or her spouse, or other significant person. Contributors could be expected to understand that a judge would be attending such events with a spouse or companion. But that purpose would be defeated by allowing such funds to be used by campaign committee members to attend the events, resulting in an appearance of making an improper political contribution. Thus, in Opinion 92-97 (Vol. X), which pre-dated the two-ticket rule, this Committee advised that a judge’s campaign committee could not use campaign contributions to purchase a table of ten or more seats for the judge, the judge’s spouse and campaign workers. In the Committee’s view, such a purchase “. . .would look too much like an impermissible political contribution and would create an appearance of impropriety. . .” in violation of section 100.2(A) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. The same rationale holds true in the present inquiry, and the judge should not permit the campaign committee to make such an expenditure.