June 7, 2002
Digest: (1) The names of three candidates for judicial office who comprise a slate of candidates may be listed on one designating petition. (2) A candidate for judicial office may circulate the designating petition for a slate of judicial candidates provided that the candidate’s name is included on the petition. (3) Three candidates for judicial office running as part of a slate should not establish a single committee to finance their campaigns for elective office.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1) (d);100.5(A)(1)(e); 100.5(A) (2)(iv); Opinions 88-04 (Vol. I); 91-94 (Vol. VIII); 91-96 (Vol. VIII); 98-99 (Vol. XVII).
A judge who is one of three candidates endorsed by a political party for three judicial offices, asks the following questions: (1) Is it ethically permissible for all three candidates to be listed on one designating petition as a slate of candidates for the judicial offices? (2) Is it ethically permissible for each individual candidate to carry the designating petition for all three candidates? (3) Is it ethically permissible for the three candidates to form a single committee to finance their campaigns?
Candidates for judicial office are generally prohibited from engaging in political activities except as authorized by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct or by law. In particular, candidates for judicial office are prohibited from (1) engaging in any partisan political activity (except the candidate’s own political campaign for judicial office); (2) participating in any political campaign for any office or permitting his or her name to be used in connection with any activity of a political organization; and (3) endorsing another candidate for political office. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(d),(e). The Rules do provide, however, that a judicial candidate’s name may be listed on election materials along with the names of other candidates for elective judicial office. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(2)(iv). It is the Committee’s opinion, therefore, that the names of all three candidates for judicial office may be listed on one designating petition as a slate of candidates.
This Committee has previously concluded that it is ethically permissible for a judge or candidate for judicial office to circulate petitions for a slate of candidates that includes the judge’s name as a nominee on the petition, but may not circulate individual nominating petitions of other candidates. Opinions 91-94 (Vol. VIII); 91-96 (Vol. VIII); 98-99 (Vol. XVII). The fact that the judicial candidates comprise the only
slate of candidates for a political party in a particular election year does not warrant a different result.
However, it is not ethically permissible for the three judicial candidates to form a single fund raising committee, as each candidate would then be deemed to be a partisan in the campaigns of the other candidates, and would readily be perceived as endorsing the two other candidates. Such conduct is prohibited by the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(d); Opinion 88-04 (Vol.11).