Opinion: 98-139
December, 3, 1998
Digest:    A town justice may use unexpended campaign funds to purchase office furniture for court chambers, which furniture will become property of the Unified Court System.

Rule:    Election Law § 14-130; 22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5);
            Opinions 93-56 (Vol. XI); 93-04 (Vol. X);
            92-104 (Vol. X); 91-87 (Vol. VIII);
            22 NYCRR 100.5(A)(5).


            A town justice inquires whether unexpended campaign contributions may be used to purchase furniture for the judge's chambers in town hall, with the understanding that such furniture becomes the property of the Unified Court System and will remain in the chambers when the judge leaves office.

            Section 14-130 of the Election law provides that:

Contributions received by a candidate or a political
committee may be expended for any lawful purpose.
Such funds shall not be converted by any person to
a personal use which is unrelated to a political campaign
or the holding of a public office or party position.
            Section 100.5 (A)(5) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, in part, states that "A candidate shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the candidate or others".

            In a series of opinions (e.g. Opinions 91-87 [Vol. VIII], 92-104 [Vol. X], 93-04 [Vol. X], 93-56 [Vol. XI] this Committee has stated that unexpended campaign funds, if not returned to campaign contributors on a pro rata basis, may be used to purchase office equipment or furniture to be used by the judge in the performance of judicial duties. Such use of campaign funds would not constitute a private benefit for the judge, provided, of course, that the purchased items become property of the court and not the judge.

            Accordingly, the proposed purchase of office furniture is ethically permissible.