By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Manhattan Surrogate Judge Nora
Anderson should be censured for accepting and failing to report
$250,000 in campaign contributions from her former boss, the
state Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Wednesday.
The commission said Anderson accepted a $100,000 personal
gift and a $150,000 personal loan in 2008 from her then employer
and friend, Brooklyn lawyer Seth Rubenstein. Anderson then
funneled the money into her surrogate's court campaign,
circumventing legal limits on donations from non-family members,
the commission said.
Anderson and Rubenstein were indicted shortly before she
took office in 2008 on 10 criminal charges connected to the
campaign transactions. Eight of the charges were later dismissed
on jurisdictional grounds, and Anderson and Rubenstein were
acquitted on the remaining two counts in 2010.
But the conduct commission said Anderson "effectively
concealed the source of the funds from public disclosure," and
the "deception inherent in (Anderson's) financial transactions
with Rubenstein was inconsistent with the ethical standards
required of judicial candidates."
Anderson also failed to report the $150,000 loan on
mandatory financial disclosure statements to the Ethics
Commission of the Unified Court System, the commission said. To
date, she has only repaid Rubenstein $14,000 of the loan, the
In Wednesday's determination, the commission cited Anderson's
inexperience as a judicial candidate and her acceptance of
responsibility as mitigating factors in determining her
"All judicial candidates, including non-incumbents running
for the first time, must abide by New York's judicial campaign
rules," commission administrator and counsel Robert Tembeckjian
said in a statement. "This decision sends a message to all
would-be judges that they risk public discipline for violating
Anderson threw her hat into the ring for the Democratic
nomination for New York County surrogate in April 2008, facing
off against two opponents: Manhattan Supreme Court Justice
Milton Tingling and attorney John Reddy. It was Anderson's first
political campaign, according to the commission.
She won the primary by a wide margin and ran unopposed in
the general election in November 2008.
The commission said it was unable to "quantitatively
demonstrate the impact that the $250,000 from Mr. Rubenstein had
on the outcome of the 2008 primary."
A lawyer for Anderson, David Godosky, said that Anderson
does not intend to challenge the commission's recommendation.
"Hopefully this determination will put down clear markers
for any future campaigns and any finance issues for future
candidates," Godosky said. "Obviously, the surrogate is happy to
have the matter closed and looks forward to continuing her work
in surrogate's court."
Anderson was not immediately available for comment Wednesday
morning. Her term expires in 2022.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
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