Opinion No. 55 (1981)*

QUESTION: May a judge periodically have fund-raising benefits to pay for (1) campaign costs, (2) living expenses or (3) office expenses?

ANSWER: (1) Campaign Costs: Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which pertains to the political activities of a judge, does not specifically address itself to fund-raising matters to cover campaign expenses; therefore, the Committee is of the opinion that it is not unethical to have fund-raising benefits to raise funds to pay for campaign expenses provided the nature and type of benefit does not, in any manner, compromise the judge in his integrity, his independence in judicial affairs, nor give the appearance of impropriety.

(2) Living Expenses: The Committee is of the opinion that fund-raising benefits to pay the living expenses of a judge would be unethical. Canon 5C(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct would appear to prohibit such fund-raising events as it states:
A judge should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on his impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of his judicial duties, exploit his judicial position, or involve him in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which he serves.

In addition to the above, to permit such fund-raising events would seem to defeat the purpose and spirit of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

(3) Office Expenses and Overhead: The Committee is of the opinion that fund-raising benefits for the purpose of raising funds to cover the office expense or office overhead of a judge would be unethical for the same reasons he should not have such benefits to pay for his living expenses.


*Canon 5(C)1 was amended effective December 19, 1989; Canon 7 was amended effective June 26, 1990.