OFFICER, AD HOC POLITICAL COMMITTEE

Opinion No. 51 (1980)*


QUESTION: Would I, as a district judge, be in violation of Canon 7 by accepting a position as treasurer of an ad hoc political organization, which confines itself to a "get out the vote" program for all Democratic candidates?

ANSWER: Canon 7 is limited to "any candidate for a judicial office." Since you are not a candidate for reelection, the restraints imposed by that canon are not applicable to you at this time. Therefore, the mere acceptance by you of the office of treasurer of the organization described in your question would not be in violation of Canon 7.

However, your acts and activities after you have accepted the office of treasurer may cause you to be in violation of Canon 5B(2), which, in relevant part, provides: "A judge should not solicit funds for any...political...organization, or use or permit the use of his office for that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer...of such an organization." The question asked by you does not set forth the manner in which the ad hoc political organization intends to "get out the vote." The majority of the Committee is of the opinion that if the nature of the activities of such political organization is to use your name or title in the literature sent out in the solicitation of funds, such activities would be in violation of Canon 5B(2). The majority of the Committee is of the further opinion that there would not be a violation of Canon 5B(2) if you merely accepted the office of treasurer and performed the usual duties of such an office, and your name or title as "Judge" did not appear in the literature or other means of solicitation of money. Other members of the Committee are of the opinion that the office of the treasurer of any organization, by its very nature, involves soliciting of funds and since a treasurer is so integrally related to soliciting of funds, the acceptance of that office by a judge subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct would be in violation of Canon 5B(2).

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*Canon 7 was amended effective June 26, 1990; Canon 5B(2) was amended effective December 19, 1989.