2010-36 (December 17, 2010)
Event, attendance/appearance; Civic Activities;
New Code of Judicial Conduct (effective
1-1-11): Rules 3.13 and 3.15.
Issue: May a
Judicial Official, along with a guest, attend a
gubernatorial inaugural ball and dinner at no cost?
Several Judicial Officials on the same court have
been invited by the Board of Trustees of the First
Company Governor’s Foot Guard (“Board of Trustees”)
to attend the Governor’s Inaugural Ball including a
sit-down dinner scheduled for January 5, 2011. The
invitation indicates the judicial official may bring
a guest. Like invitations have been extended to all
judicial officials on the same court and to certain
non-judicial state elected and appointed public
officials without regard to political affiliation.
The admission for the sit-down dinner costs $225 per
person. No judicial official will be seated on the
dais with the governor-elect, but at least one
judicial official will be sitting at a table near
the dais. The stated purpose of the inaugural ball
is two-fold: “to honor the Inauguration of our
elected State Officers and in particular the
Governor, and to raise funds to support and maintain
[the] armory located at 159 High Street in
In planning for this event,
the Board of Trustees sought and obtained an
advisory opinion from the Connecticut Office of
State Ethics regarding whether the Board of Trustees
could offer complimentary tickets to the inaugural
ball to state elected and appointed officials. The
Office of State Ethics concluded that “public
officials invited by the Board of Trustees to attend
the Inaugural Ball by virtue of their state
positions may accept admission to the event,
including any food or beverage provided there, under
the charitable/civic-event gift exception in General
Statutes § 1-79 (e)(14).” State of Connecticut
Office of State Ethics Advisory Opinion 2010-3.
Because this event is planned
for 2011, the proposed conduct is governed by the
new Code of Judicial Conduct (effective 1-1-11).
Rule 3.13 permits a judicial official to accept an
invitation extended to the official and a guest to
attend events associated with civic activities
subject to the reporting requirements of Rule 3.15.
Based upon the facts presented, including that the
inaugural ball is not a fundraising event for a
political organization, but rather a civic event
that marks the orderly transition of an elected
official, the Committee concluded that the Judicial
Officials may attend this civic event and accept the
two complimentary tickets, provided the value is
reported pursuant to Rule 3.15.