TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION
ETHICS ADVISORY OPINION NO. 399
June 12, 1998
Whether an individual who lost a primary election for the office of district court judge may donate surplus campaign contributions to a candidate for a nonjudicial office. (AOR-437)
An individual who lost a primary election for the office of district court judge has asked whether he may donate his surplus campaign contributions to a candidate for a nonjudicial office.
Under the Texas campaign finance law, candidates for nonjudicial offices in Texas are permitted to donate surplus campaign contributions to candidates for other offices. See Elec. Code § 254.204(a)(2); Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 47 (1992). Candidates for certain judicial offices,1 however, are subject to the following restriction:
A judicial candidate or officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate or assisting a judicial officeholder may not use a political contribution to make political contributions that in the aggregate exceed $100 in a calendar year to a candidate or officeholder.
Elec. Code § 253.1611(a). The requestor is not a judicial officeholder, and he was unsuccessful in his bid to become a political party's nominee for a judicial office. The question here is whether the requestor nonetheless remains a "judicial candidate" subject to the restriction set out above.
For purposes of the provision in question a "judicial candidate" is a person who knowingly and willingly takes affirmative action for the purpose of gaining nomination or election to a judicial office listed in Election Code section 253.151 or for the purpose of satisfying financial obligations incurred by the person in connection with the campaign for nomination or election. See id. § 251.001(1). The filing of a campaign treasurer appointment is cited as an example of an affirmative act that makes an individual a candidate. Id. § 251.001(1)(A). As long as an individual has a campaign treasurer appointment on file, he or she may accept campaign contributions in connection with his or her candidacy, even if the applicable election has already occurred. See id. § 253.031(a). We conclude, therefore, that the requestor remains a judicial candidate as long as he has a campaign treasurer appointment on file. See generally id. § 254.065 (for reporting purposes, an individual remains a candidate until he or she files a final report).
An individual who has filed a final report (and has not reappointed a campaign treasurer) is not a candidate. By its terms, Election Code section 253.1611 does not apply to a former judicial candidate.
An individual is a candidate as long as the individual has a campaign treasurer appointment on file. An individual who has filed a final report (and has not reappointed a campaign treasurer) is not a candidate.
Election Code section 253.1611 does not apply to a former judicial candidate.
1 The restriction applies to candidates for the following offices: chief justice or justice, supreme court; presiding judge or judge, court of criminal appeals; chief justice or justice, court of appeals; district judge; judge, statutory county court; or judge, statutory probate court. Elec. Code § 253.151.