December 22, 1987
Opinion No. 87/22
Canons 4, 7A(1), (2), (3) and (4)
This is in response to your inquiry of August 5, 1987.
Your husband is running for Mayor of Hollywood in Broward County where you reside. You, as Chief Judge, realize that you are prohibited from campaigning for your husband's election. You have certain questions you would like for the Committee to respond to. For simplification, I enumerate them as you did in your inquiry:
1) I attend and speak to many various civic, charitable and condominium functions and meetings. May I continue to attend and speak provided that I make no political or campaign speech on behalf of my husband?
2) I have friends throughout the county with whom I maintain ties. May I inform them of my husband's candidacy if I do not solicit their vote or support?
3) If my husband has supporters meet at my home, may I serve as hostess, pouring coffee, serving cake and greeting guests, provided I do not solicit their vote or support?
4) The car which I regularly drive is titled in my husband's name. May he put a bumper strip signifying his candidacy on his car?
5) All our funds are jointly held. May he withdraw funds from our joint account and place it into his political account?
6) At a meeting of a non-political group, where one or more candidates and their spouses are invited, may I attend provided I do not solicit anyone's support or vote?
7) At a political meeting where candidates' spouses attend, may I attend provided I do not solicit anyone's support or vote?
8) May I help him doing "leg work" which does not involve political solicitations?
Of the ten members of the Committee, nine members responded to your letter and I have compiled their answers, which are as follows:
As to question 1 -- Seven members stated this activity may be permitted. One member expressed the opinion that you should refrain and curtail your public appearances and public speeches during your husband's campaign. One member did not respond to each question separately so that member's recommendations will be set forth at the end of the compilation of the answers to the eight questions.
As to question 2 -- Six members stated this activity is not permitted. One member answered permitted, as long as any such representations are not made publicly, and another member answered permitted but subject to the caveat that you not in any way seek support for your husband's candidacy.
As to question 3 -- Six members stated this is not permitted. Two members are of the opinion that at the most you may acknowledge the presence of your husband's supporters and bid them farewell upon their departure. Both of these members, however, recommend that you remain totally apart from the persons who are present.
As to question 4 -- Nine members responded that this activity is not permitted.
As to question 5 -- Nine members responded that this activity is permitted.
As to question 6 -- Six members responded that this practice is not permitted, and one other states "NO" unless the meeting is wholly social and there is no organized political activity undertaken by any candidate or anyone associated with any candidate.
As to question 7 -- Eight members responded that this practice is not permitted.
As to question 8 -- Eight members responded that this is not permitted, although two members are in doubt as to the meaning of the term "leg work." As to the one member who did not respond to each individual question with the exceptions to the answers to questions 4 and 8, that member responded that you could participate with care and propriety avoiding solicitation or political activities and that you should let friends and your husband's supporters know very clearly that the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits you from being involved in your husband's campaign.
We have based our opinion on the information furnished in your letter. The committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges 327 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
We appreciate your inquiry and trust that the foregoing information will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
George W. Tedder, Jr.
cc: All Committee Members
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Linda Yates, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar Journal
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Howard T. Markey, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Jeffrey M. Shaman, Esquire, Director, Center for Judicial Conduct Organizations
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida