Opinion No. 96-1
January 31, 1996
TOPIC: Campaign funds - authority to sign expenditure check
DIGEST: A candidate for judge or a member of his family is not prohibited
from signing campaign fund checks to pay campaign expenses.
REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rule 67B(2) of the Code of Judicial
Conduct, Canon 7 (145 Ill.2d R. 67).
An attorney, who is a candidate for the judiciary, is raising funds for his
campaign expenses through a campaign committee and wishes to have signature
authority to sign checks on that fund. The attorney also wishes that authority in a
1. Whether a candidate for election to judicial office, whether a sitting
judge or attorney, may have authority to sign checks on his or her campaign fund
to pay campaign expenses?
2. Whether a member of the candidate's family may have such authority?
A candidate for election to judicial office, whether a sitting judge or
attorney, and correspondingly a member of such candidate's family, is not
prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct from having authority to sign checks
on the candidate's campaign funds.
Rule 67B governs "Authorized activities for Judges and Candidates whether
lawyer or sitting judge". In subsection 2 thereof, a candidate for judicial office is
prohibited from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions. However, the
section does not prohibit the candidate or their family from having the authority to
sign checks expending those campaign funds.
The authority to sign such checks may be a right a candidate reasonably and
practically may want to retain. A candidate has the ultimate responsibility for how
funds are spent and who are the recipients of such funds. Accordingly, a
candidate may want closer control of the use of the funds in order to have answers
to later questions which might arise. The candidate is not prohibited from
knowing facts concerning campaign fund expenditures.
Rule 67B(2) further authorizes the candidate to establish a committee to
raise funds, conduct the candidate's campaign, and "manage the expenditure of
funds". There is no language in the section, however, prohibiting the candidate
who uses a campaign committee from retaining the authority to manage the
expenditure of funds.