March 19, 1998
TO: Doug Clemens <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
Dear Mr. Clemens:
I have received your e-mail communication of March 4. You have asked whether county democratic committee meetings are open to the public.
In this regard, that statute that generally requires that meetings be held in public is the Open Meetings Law. That statute pertains to meetings of public bodies, and §102(2) defines the phrase "public body" to include:
"...any entity for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which
consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, or for a public corporation as defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, or committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such
As such, the Open Meetings Law pertains to meetings of governmental bodies, such as a county legislature, a city council, a town board, or the State Senate and Assembly. It is emphasized, however, that §108(2)(a) of the Open Meetings Law exempts from its coverage "deliberations of political committees, conferences and caucuses." Further, §108(2)(b) states that:
"for purposes of this section, the deliberations of political committees, conferences and
caucuses means a private meeting of members of the senate or assembly of the state of New York, or the legislative body of a county, city, town or village, who are members or adherents of the same political party, without regard to (i) the subject matter under discussion, including discussions of public business, (ii) the majority or minority status of such political committees, conferences and caucuses or (iii) whether such political committees, conferences and caucuses invite staff or guests to participate in their deliberations..."
Based on the foregoing, political party meetings would not be covered by the Open Meetings Law.
I note that some "caucuses" must be held open to the public pursuant to the Election Law. Specifically, §1-104(28) of the Election Law states that:
"The term ‘caucus' shall mean an open meeting held in a political subdivision to nominate the candidates of a political party for public office to be elected in such subdivision at which all the enrolled voters of such party residing in such subdivision are eligible to vote."
To obtain additional information regarding political party committee meetings, the only source of which I am aware that might offer guidance would be the State Board of Elections.
Lastly, I am unable to e-mail copies of advisory opinions to which you
referred because they were prepared before this office used electronic
information systems. If you want copies, please provide your address.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman