Opinion 88-129

December 8, 1988


Topic:          May a judge who is not a candidate for re-election purchase tickets to a dinner or social event whose proceeds will be used to elect community school board members?


Digest:         Although not necessarily politically sponsored, a social event sponsoring community school board candidates for elections is so closely involved with the political community that a judge may not purchase tickets to attend the event.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.7(a), (b), (c) and (e)


         Sections 100.7(a), (b), (c) and (e) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator prohibit the participation by a judge, either directly or indirectly, in any political campaign for any office, except his or her own campaign for elective judicial office. The proscription specifically includes the purchase of tickets to politically-sponsored dinners or other affairs or attendance at such dinners except in limited circumstances. Rule 100.7(a).

         In some parts of the state, the school board election is a hotly contested event, even though the election is publicly denoted as non-partisan. While usually not political in a party or organization sense, philosophies are espoused which pertain to an organized system of government. In this sense participation in a social function, the proceeds of which advance the candidacies of school board officials or persons seeking such office, would be prohibited as being, at the very least, indirect participation in a political agenda. Such participation violates the spirit if not the letter of sections 100.7(a), (b), (c) and (e) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator.