Opinion: 03-119

January 29, 2004


Digest:         Any excess funds raised by a post-election fund-raiser may not be used to repay loans made by the judge to the campaign.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5); Opinions 87-16 (Vol. I); 93-20 (Vol. X); 96-31(Vol. XIV) 98-132/136 (Vol. XVII).


         A judge who was recently elected states that the judge’s campaign committee plans to hold a post-election fund-raiser within the Window Period “to satisfy the debt owed to unrelated third parties.” The committee is also indebted to the judge. The judge seeks the advice of the Advisory Committee as to the disposition of any “excess of funds in the campaign account after all third party debt is satisfied.”

         This Committee has previously advised that a fund-raiser can be held within the Window Period to repay campaign debts [Opinions 93-20 (Vol. X); 96-31 (Vol. XIV)] and that excess campaign funds may be used for a modest victory party [Opinion 87-16 (Vol. I)] and for the purchase of items for official use in chambers which then became the property of the state (Opinion 02-27). However, the Committee has also stated that a post-election fund-raiser may not be held for the purpose of repaying loans made by the judge to the campaign committee. Opinion 96-31 (Vol. XIV). We believe that this principle extends to any funds raised in excess of what is needed to discharge the debts owed to third–party creditors. That is, any excess from a post-election fund-raiser should not be used to repay the judge.1 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5). Instead, the excess funds should be returned to the contributors to the campaign on a pro rata basis.

1. This is to be distinguished from reimbursing a judge from funds raised during the campaign. See Joint Opinion 98-132/136 (Vol. XVII).