By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y., Dec 28 (Reuters) - A new ruling by the New
York State Committee on Judicial Ethics has increased
significantly the amount of unspent campaign funds that judges
are allowed to keep after an election.
Responding to a letter from an unnamed, recently elected
judge, the panel of 26 active and retired judges voted to allow
judges to keep unspent campaign war chests of $1,000 or less, up
from the previous limit of $150.
The panel found that judges may keep sums of $1,000 or less
to be used for any "legal, non-political purpose," such as
purchasing office supplies. If the remaining war chest exceeds
$1,000, the judge must return the balance to campaign donors on
a prorated basis, the committee said.
If a judge had $1,500 remaining, for example, he would have
to return $500 to donors.
The $1,000 cutoff is based on a 2008 opinion, in which the
committee found that anything less than $1,000 constitutes a
"minimal amount" of unspent campaign funds.
Judges may not donate the unspent money to any entity,
including a charity, and may not use the funds in subsequent
political campaigns, the panel wrote.
The committee's decisions are not legally binding but may
form the basis of disciplinary action against judges.
The decision was published in the New York Law Journal on
Thursday and overruled a 1999 opinion establishing the $150
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