July 27, 1988
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Amendment to: Opinion 88/13
Use of campaign funds for personal purposes
Canon 7B(2) and F.S. §106.1405
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated April 28, 1998
In the July 1 issue of The Florida Bar News, the opinion we rendered pursuant to your request was reported. As a result of that publication, a question was raised as to the opinion's breadth. Thus, we have determined that campaign contributions may be used for the payment of the qualifying fee and the expenses incurred in traveling to Tallahassee for the filing of the qualifying documents in the event such documents are delivered in person. It is also the Committee's position that campaign funds may be used for the reimbursement of campaign related gas consumption, hotel and meal costs. We reemphasize, however, that "[a] candidate should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family." Permitted expenditures must be directly attributable to the election campaign.
Two members of the Committee have expressed the view that Canon 7B(2) would not be offended in the circumstance where a candidate determines, for example, that the presence of his or her spouse is essential to the candidacy. The cost of such presence may be satisfied from campaign contributions. In this regard, the two Committee members add the caveat that there should be no pretextual avoidance of the prohibition dealt with in our May 5 response.
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).
Richard H. Frank, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Booth, Frank, Goldstein, Green, Levy, Shutter, Tolton and Attorney Page
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. Walter K. Stapleton, 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