Opinion 18-96

June 21, 2018


Digest:         A judicial candidate must not use campaign contributions to purchase new clothes for his/her election campaign.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(4)(a); 100.5(A)(5); Opinion 98-06.


         A candidate within his/her window period for elective judicial office asks if he/she may use campaign funds to purchase “suits or dressier clothing” to wear during his/her campaign.

         A judge or non-judge, running for public election to judicial office must “act in a manner consistent with the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary” (22 NYCRR 100.5[A][4][a]). Among other restrictions, the candidate must “not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the candidate or others” (22 NYCRR 100.5[A][5]).

         Interpreting Section 100.5(A)(5), we have said campaign funds may not be used to purchase “even token gifts” for campaign workers, because gift-giving is not a “traditional part of the total election process” (see Opinion 98-06).

         Somewhat analogously, we believe clothing purchases are not a traditional judicial campaign expense in New York, and thus the proposed expenditures could be seen only as using campaign contributions for the candidate’s private benefit. They are therefore impermissible (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][5]).

         The candidate may, of course, use personal funds to upgrade his/her wardrobe.