Opinion: 97-31

March 13, 1997

Digest:  A judge may not attend functions hosted by a county legislator or the County Executive which are sponsored by the officials' political campaign committees.

Rule:  22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(c),(e),(g).
           Opinion 89-26 (Vol. III).


            A judge inquires as to whether the judge may attend two breakfast functions, one of which is being hosted by a county legislator and the other by the County Executive. The legislator's breakfast is designed to "discuss economic development" in the county with the legislator's "local business supporters". There is no charge for the breakfast but it is "sponsored by "Friends of [the legislator]". The County Executive's breakfast is labeled the Annual State of the County Breakfast, and although the inquiring judge has received a complimentary ticket to the event, others attending would contribute $150.00 per person, payable to the "Friends of [the County Executive] Committee".

            The inquirer is not a candidate for re-election. Thus, section 100.5 of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibits the judge from attending political gatherings or participating in any political activities. Here, although the gatherings to which the inquiring judge has been invited may have a salutary purpose, they are, in fact, sponsored by a political action or a political finance committee. The breakfast sponsored by the county legislator's committee, where there is no charge, is obviously underwritten by that committee. The County Executive's breakfast appears clearly to be a fund-raising political event even though its stated purpose is to report on the "State of the County."

        Under the circumstances, the judge's attendance would constitute political activity and is therefore impermissible. See also Opinion 89-26 (Vol. III).