22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1); 100.5(A)(1)(h).
Opinion 96-29 (Vol. XIV)
A judge who is the sole source of income in the judge's family inquires whether the judge's spouse may make political contributions from a joint checking account if the judge's name is deleted from the check.
A judge who is not a candidate for judicial office is prohibited from engaging in political activity, "directly or indirectly." 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1). Prohibited political activity includes "making a contribution to a political organization or candidate." 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(1)(h). In Opinion 96-29 (Vol. XIV) the Committee advised an inquiring judge that political contributions made by the judge's spouse from a joint checking account were not permissible, stating that "the judge cannot do indirectly that which is forbidden explicitly."
Deleting the judge's name from a check drawn upon a joint checking account would not, in the Committee's opinion, rectify the problem. However, and despite the fact that the spouse is not the source of the funds, the judge's spouse may make contributions from any separate funds which had been set aside for the sole discretionary use of the spouse, including a checking account in the spouse's name alone.