NOTE: Effective May 1, 2019, Canon 7 was amended to eliminate the $100 per lawyer limitation and remove the disclaimer requirement and instead to refer to the statutory campaign limitation to bring Michigan in conformity with the majority of other states.
NOTE: Effective January 1, 2000, the "180-day Fundraising Period" in MCJC 7B(2)(c) has been replaced by a fund-raising period starting on February 15 of the year of the election.
April 11, 1980
A judicial candidate may not personally solicit or accept campaign funds.
A judicial candidate's campaign committee is prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from lawyers, in excess of $100 per lawyer.
A judicial candidate's campaign committee may accept unsolicited campaign contributions from lawyers, in excess of $100, within 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention.
References: MCJC 7B(2)(a), (b) and (c).
A judge inquires whether a campaign committee is required to return any excess over $100 voluntarily contributed by an individual lawyer.
MCJC 7B(2) states, in part:
"B. Campaign Conduct:
MCJC 7B(2)(a) clearly prohibits a judicial candidate from soliciting or accepting campaign funds. MCJC 7B(2)(c) prohibits committees from soliciting campaign contributions in excess of $100 per lawyer prior to the date of the general election. After the date of the general election, the committee may not solicit or accept campaign funds. A literal reading of 7B(2)(a) and (c) permits a judicial candidate's committee to accept unsolicited campaign contributions in excess of $100 from an individual lawyer.
Had the drafters of the Canon intended to prevent acceptance of voluntary contributions, in excess of $100 per lawyer prior to the general election, the wording of MCJC 7B(2)(c) would have expressly prohibited "acceptance." The only reference to acceptance is after the general election or by the judicial candidate in MCJC 7B(2)(a).
This opinion is contrary to informal opinion CI-352, June 6, 1978, in which this Committee ruled that a campaign committee for a judicial candidate could not accept contributions from lawyers in excess of $100. After the date of that decision, the Committee was advised that when the Supreme Court adopted the code of Judicial Conduct, and, specifically MCJC 7B(2)(c), the State Bar of Michigan asked the Supreme Court to prohibit both the solicitation and acceptance of contributions in excess of $100. The Supreme court declined to adopt the State Bar of Michigan's proposal. Both the Ethics Committee and the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar of Michigan are of the opinion that acceptance of campaign contributions, in excess of $100 should be likewise prohibited for the reasons stated in CI-352, however, until Canon 7 is amended, a campaign committee is free to accept unsolicited contributions in excess of $100.