1996-01: Campaign funds - authority to sign expenditure check

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 family member.


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.