Opinion 41

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been requested to render an opinion concerning whether a finance committee appointed by a candidate under Rule 4.2(B) may appropriately raise funds with which to pay the qualifying fee of the candidate either in a primary or general election. 

The Commission is of the opinion that this inquiry should be answered in the affirmative.

Under Rule 4.2(B), it is provided:

Judicial candidates may personally solicit campaign contributions and publicly stated support. Judicial candidates, including incumbent judges, shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of themselves or members of their families. 

In Commentary [8] under Rule 4.2, it is provided:

The use of campaign committees is encouraged, because they may better maintain campaign decorum and reduce campaign activity that may cause requests for recusal, or the appearance of partisanship with respect to issues or the parties that require recusal. 

The rule makes no specific distinction between solicitation of funds for the payment of a candidate’s qualifying fee and funds used for advertising, clerical and other expenses in connection with a campaign for election, and we find nothing in the statement of the rule which would justify implying any such distinction. 

It is also the opinion of the Commission that it makes no difference whether the candidate is or is not an incumbent judge nor whether the candidate for whom the funds are being raised has at that time any announced opposition so long as the activities of the finance committee take place within the time frame set out in the rule.

Contributions should, of course, be reported under the requirements of the Campaign and Financial Disclosure Act found in Chapter 40-38 of the Code of Georgia Annotated.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rule 1.2(B), 4.2(B). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #7, #22, #56, #85, #106.]

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