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Ethics Opinion

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June 3, 1980


    A judicial campaign committee may accept unsolicited in kind campaign contributions from individual lawyers, such as bumper stickers and single page advertising, having a value in excess of $100.

    References: MCJC 7B(2)(a), (b) and (c).


A candidate for a district court judgeship acknowledges that campaign contributions in excess of $100 may not be solicited from individual lawyers, and asks the following questions:

  1. May a judicial candidate accept campaign contributions in excess of $100?
  2. May a judicial candidate accept in-kind contributions valued in excess of $100 by way of donated bumper stickers costing $160, or a single page newspaper advertisement in excess of $500?

In both instances the candidate states that the campaign contributions are being volunteered, not solicited by the candidate.

The answer to the first question is clearly set forth in MCJC 7B(2)(c), which states in part:

    "B. Campaign Conduct:

      "(2) A candidate, including an incumbent Judge, for a judicial office:

        "(a) Should not himself solicit or accept campaign funds, or solicit publicly stated support by improper use of his office in violation of B(1)(c).

        "(b) He may establish committees of responsible persons to secure and manage the expenditure of funds for his campaign and to obtain public statements of support for his candidacy.

        "(c) Such committees are prohibited form soliciting campaign contributions form lawyers in excess of $100 per lawyer, buy may solicit public support from lawyers. A candidate's committee may solicit funds for the campaign no earlier than 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention and may not solicit or accept funds after the date of the general election. A candidate should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family.

        ". . . ."

MCJC 7B(2)(a) clearly prohibits a judicial candidate from personally soliciting or accepting campaign funds. MCJC 7B(2)(b) permits a judicial candidate to establish a campaign committee of responsible persons and MCJC 7B(2)(c) authorizes a candidate's campaign committee to solicit contributions from lawyers not in excess of $100 per lawyer. Furthermore, this Committee held in CI-509 that a judicial candidate's campaign committee may accept unsolicited campaign contributions from lawyers, in excess of $100.

The Committee believes there is no logical distinction between the acceptance of unsolicited monetary contributions in excess of $100 per lawyer, and the acceptance of unsolicited in-kind gifts of personal property or services from lawyers exceeding a value of $100. Therefore, a campaign committee may accept the offered gifts of bumper stickers and donated advertising space, even though the cost of these individual items would exceed the value of $100.



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