Questions and Answers Concerning Political Contributions and Prohibitions on Municipal Securities Business: Rule G-37

I. PERSONS/ENTITIES SUBJECT TO THE RULE

I.1
Q: To whom does Rule G-37 apply?
A: In general, Rule G-37 applies to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (collectively referred to as dealers), municipal finance professionals, and PACs controlled by the dealer or any municipal finance professional. In addition, the recordkeeping and disclosure provisions apply to non-MFP executive officers of the dealer.

(May 24, 1994)

II. PROHIBITION ON ENGAGING IN MUNICIPAL SECURITIES BUSINESS (Rule G-37(b))

II.1
Q: What actions would cause a dealer to be prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with an issuer?
A:
Rule G-37(b) prohibits a dealer from engaging in municipal securities business with an issuer within two years after any contribution to an official of such issuer made by: (i) the dealer, (ii) any municipal finance professional associated with such dealer; or (iii) any PAC controlled by the dealer or any municipal finance professional.

(May 24, 1994)

II.2
Q: Is there an exception to this prohibition on engaging in municipal securities business?
A: There is one exception to Rule G-37(b). The prohibition does not apply if the only contributions to officials of issuers are made by municipal finance professionals entitled to vote for such officials, and provided such contributions, in total, are not in excess of $250 by each such municipal finance professional to each official of such issuer, per election.

(May 24, 1994)

II.3
Q: What is the municipal securities business that a dealer would be banned from engaging in with an issuer if certain political contributions are made to officials of such issuers?
A: The term "municipal securities business" is defined in Rule G-37(g)(vii) to encompass certain activities of dealers, such as acting as negotiated underwriters (as managing underwriter or as syndicate member), financial advisors and consultants, placement agents, and negotiated remarketing agents. The rule does not prohibit a dealer from engaging in competitive underwritings or competitive remarketing services for the issuer.

(May 24, 1994)

II.4
Q: If a non-MFP executive officer makes a contribution to an official of an issuer, is the dealer prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with that issuer?
A:
No. The prohibition section applies only to contributions made by the dealer, its municipal finance professionals, or any PAC controlled by the dealer or any of its municipal finance professionals. The definition of non-MFP executive officer does not include any municipal finance professional. However, contributions by non-MFP executive officers are subject to the reporting/disclosure provisions of the rule. In addition, pursuant to section (d), dealers are prohibited from using non-MFP executive officers (as well as any other person or entity) as a conduit for making contributions to officials of issuers.

(May 24, 1994)

II.5
Q: Would a dealer be prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with a state agency, whose board members are appointed by the governor, if the dealer makes contributions to the governor?
A: Yes, the definition of “official of an issuer” in Rule G-37(g)(vi) includes any person who was, at the time of the contribution, an incumbent, candidate or successful candidate for any elective office of a state or of any political subdivision, which office has authority to appoint any person who is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by an issuer.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

II.6
Q: May a municipal finance professional who is entitled to vote for an issuer official make contributions to pay for such official’s transition or inaugural expenses without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer?
A: Yes, under certain conditions. The de minimis exception allows a municipal finance professional to contribute up to $250 per candidate per election if the municipal finance professional is entitled to vote for that issuer official. The de minimis exception is keyed to an election cycle; therefore, if a municipal finance professional contributed $250 to the general election of an issuer official, the municipal finance professional would not be able to make any contributions to pay for transition or inaugural expenses without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer. If a municipal finance professional made no contributions to an issuer official prior to the election, then the municipal finance professional may, if entitled to vote for the candidate, contribute up to $250 to pay for transition or inaugural expenses and payment of debt incurred in connection with the election without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business.

(September 9, 1997)

II.7
Q: Are any payments made to issuer officials, other than political contributions, covered by the rule?
A:
No. However, any other payments may be subject to Rule G‑20 on gifts and gratuities.

(May 24, 1994)

Primary, State Caucus or Convention

II.8
Q: If an issuer official is involved in a primary election prior to the general election, may a municipal finance professional who is entitled to vote for such official contribute $250 to the issuer official's primary as well as general election?
A:
Yes, the municipal finance professional could contribute up to $500 to each such official (i.e., $250 per election).

(May 24, 1994)

II.9
Q: If the locality in which the incumbent or candidate is seeking election as an issuer official holds a convention or caucus (instead of a primary election) prior to the general election, may a municipal finance professional entitled to vote in that locality contribute $250 to the incumbent or candidate's convention or caucus election campaign, as well as $250 to the incumbent or candidate's general election, without causing a ban on municipal securities business with the issuer?
A: Yes, if the issuer official has been qualified to be considered at the state caucus or convention.

(June 15, 1995)

MFP as Incumbent or Candidate

II.10
Q: If a municipal finance professional also is an incumbent or candidate for political office in a municipality in which the municipal finance professional's employer (i.e., the dealer) conducts municipal securities business, must the dealer terminate the municipal finance professional or are there any restrictions on the kind of business a dealer can engage in with that issuer?
A: No. However, the dealer, any municipal finance professional and any PAC controlled by the dealer or municipal finance professional must ensure that the dealer does not engage in municipal securities business with the issuer if contributions (other than the de minimis contributions allowed under section (b)) are made to an official of the issuer. The municipal finance professional who is an incumbent or candidate for office is not limited to contributing the de minimis amount to his or her own campaign in such instances.

(May 24, 1994)

Attendance at Fund-Raising Dinner

II.11
Q: May a dealer continue to engage in municipal securities business with an issuer if a municipal finance professional pays for and attends a fund-raising dinner for a candidate who is seeking election to a position as an official of such issuer?
A: A municipal finance professional who contributes funds in this instance would subject the dealer to a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer unless the municipal finance professional is entitled to vote for such candidate and any contributions do not exceed $250 to such candidate per election. In addition, any municipal finance professional who attends the dinner for the purpose of soliciting contributions by others for the issuer official would violate Rule G-37's prohibition on soliciting contributions. See also Rule G-37(c).

(May 24, 1994)

Two-Year Look Back

II.12
Q: A municipal finance professional (i.e., a municipal investment banker subject to the two year look back) was associated with dealer X at the time he made a contribution which resulted in the dealer being prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer. Then, less than two years after making the contribution, the municipal finance professional becomes associated with dealer Y. Is dealer Y also subject to the prohibition on business?
A: Both dealers are subject to the prohibition for two years from the date the municipal finance professional made the contribution. Of course, dealer Y's prohibition on business only begins when the municipal finance professional becomes associated with that dealer.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

II.13
Q: Prior to becoming associated with any dealer, a person makes a contribution to an issuer official. Less than two years after making the contribution, that person becomes a municipal finance professional (i.e., a municipal investment banker subject to the two year look back). Would the hiring dealer be prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with that issuer?
A: Yes. Rule G-37 attempts to sever any connection between the making of contributions and the awarding of municipal securities business by prohibiting the dealer from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer for two years from the date the contribution was made. As noted above, the dealer's prohibition on business would begin when the municipal finance professional becomes associated with that dealer. Thus, if the individual was hired, for example, six months after making the contribution, then the dealer's prohibition on business would extend for one and one half years.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

II.14
Q: If a dealer hires an individual as a retail sales person, would the contributions made by that person prior to being hired subject the dealer to the two-year prohibition on municipal securities business?
A: The rule's two-year prohibition is triggered by contributions by dealers, municipal finance professionals, and political action committees controlled by a dealer or a municipal finance professional. If a retail sales person is not a municipal finance professional and does not become a municipal finance professional within two years after making a contribution to an issuer official, then such contributions will not trigger the ban on business. However, if the retail sales person is, or within two years becomes, a municipal finance professional (e.g., by solicitation of officials of an issuer), then contributions made by that person will subject the hiring dealer to the two-year ban on business. A retail sales person would not be considered to be a municipal finance professional solely because of his or her municipal securities retail sales activities. (See Rule G-37(g)(iv)).

(December 7, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

II.15
Q: A person is associated with a dealer in a non-municipal finance professional capacity, and makes a contribution to an issuer official. Less than two years after making the contribution, that person becomes a municipal finance professional (i.e., a municipal investment banker subject to the two year look back). Would the dealer be prohibited from engaging in a negotiated underwriting with that issuer?
A: Yes, the dealer is subject to the prohibition for two years from the date the contribution was made.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

II.16
Q: A person is associated with a dealer in a non-municipal finance professional capacity and makes a political contribution to an official of an issuer for whom such person is not entitled to vote. Less than two years after such person made the contribution, the dealer merges with another dealer and, solely as a result of the merger, that person becomes a municipal finance professional of the surviving dealer. Would the surviving dealer be prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with that issuer?
A: Yes. Rule G-37 would prohibit the surviving dealer from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer for two years from the date the contribution was made. Of course, the surviving dealer’s prohibition on business would only begin when the person who made the contribution becomes a municipal finance professional of the surviving dealer.

The Board notes, however, that Rule G-37 was not intended to prevent mergers in the municipal securities industry or, once a merger is consummated, to seriously hinder the surviving dealer’s municipal securities business if the merger was not an attempt to circumvent the letter or spirit of rule G-37. Thus, the dealer may wish to seek an exemption from the ban on business pursuant to Rule G-37(i) from its appropriate regulatory authority.

(June 29, 1998, revised October 30, 2003)

Refund of Inadvertent Contribution

II.17
Q: A disgruntled municipal finance professional made a contribution purposely to subject the dealer to the two-year prohibition on business. When the contribution is discovered by the dealer, a refund of the contribution is requested and obtained. Is the dealer still banned from engaging in business with that issuer? In addition, does the contribution have to be disclosed on Form G-37?
A: Rule G-37(b) prohibits a dealer from engaging in municipal securities business with an issuer within two years after any contribution to an official of such issuer by any municipal finance professional associated with such dealer if the contribution does not meet the de minimis exemption. Section (i) of the rule provides a procedure whereby dealers may seek relief from the appropriate enforcement agency of the rule G-37 prohibition on business. In determining whether to grant such an exemption, one of the factors the enforcement agency will consider is whether the dealer has taken all available steps to obtain a return of the contribution. Even if a refund of the contribution has been obtained, dealers are required to seek an exemption from the ban on business. In addition, dealers also must disclose the contribution on Form G-37. Dealers may wish to indicate on the form (and in their own records) that a refund of the contribution was obtained. See Rule G-37(i).

(August 18, 1994)

Volunteer Work

II.18
Q: Is a municipal finance professional prohibited from performing volunteer work on an issuer official's behalf?
A: Rule G-37 is not intended to prohibit or restrict municipal finance professionals from engaging in personal volunteer work. However, soliciting and bundling of contributions would invoke application of the rule. In addition, if the municipal finance professional uses the dealer's resources (e.g., a political position paper prepared by dealer personnel) or incurs expenses in the conduct of such volunteer work (e.g., hosting a reception), then the value of such resources or expenses would constitute a contribution. Personal expenses incurred by the municipal finance professional in the conduct of such volunteer work, which expenses are purely incidental to such work and unreimbursed by the dealer (e.g., cab fares and personal meals), would not constitute a contribution.

(May 24, 1994)

Dealer Resources

II.19
Q: If an employee of a dealer is donating his or her time to an issuer official's campaign, does the dealer have to disclose this as a contribution to such official? In addition, would the fact that the employee is taking a leave of absence from the dealer cause a different result?
A: An employee of a dealer generally can donate his or her time to an issuer official's campaign without this being viewed as a contribution by the dealer to the official, as long as the employee is volunteering his or her time during non-work hours, or is using previously accrued vacation time or the dealer is not otherwise paying the employee's salary (e.g., an unpaid leave of absence).

(August 18, 1994)

Making Contributions to Issuer Officials on Behalf of Other Persons

II.20
Q: A municipal finance professional signs a check drawn on a joint account, which is owned by the municipal finance professional and another person, and submits it to an issuer official as a contribution along with a writing which states that the contribution is being made solely by the other holder of the joint account. Would any portion of this contribution be attributable to the municipal finance professional under Rule G-37?
A: If a municipal finance professional signs a check, whether the check was drawn on a joint account or not, and submits it as a contribution to an issuer official, then the municipal finance professional is deemed to have made the full contribution, regardless of any writing accompanying the check that provides or directs otherwise. Moreover, if this amount exceeds, or does not qualify for, the de minimis exception, then by making such a contribution the municipal finance professional will trigger the rule's ban on business thereby prohibiting his dealer/employer from engaging in municipal securities business with the particular issuer for two years.

(February 16, 1996)

II.21
Q: If a municipal finance professional and another person (e.g., her spouse) both sign a check drawn on their joint account and submit the check to an issuer official as a contribution, would the contribution amount be attributable equally between them (i.e., 50% to each person) for purposes of Rule G-37?
A: Yes. If a municipal finance professional and any other person both sign a check drawn on their joint account and submit it to an issuer official as a contribution, then each person is deemed to have made half of the contribution, regardless of any writing accompanying the check that provides or directs otherwise.

(February 16, 1996)

Making Contributions to a Candidate Who Later Loses the Election

II.22
Q: If a municipal finance professional made a political contribution which was not subject to the de minimis exception to an issuer official candidate who subsequently did not win the election, is the dealer banned from engaging in municipal securities business with that issuer (i.e., the governmental entity)?
A: Yes. Rule G-37 defines the term "official of such issuer" or "official of an issuer" as "any person (including any election committee for such person) who was, at the time of the contribution, an incumbent, candidate or successful candidate: (A) for elective office of the issuer which office is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by the issuer; or (B) for any elective office of a state or of any political subdivision, which office has authority to appoint any official(s) of an issuer, as defined in subparagraph (A), above." It is clear from the rule that, at the time the contribution is made, if the recipient of that contribution is an "official of an issuer," then the dealer is subject to the two-year ban on business with the issuer, regardless of whether the candidate wins or loses the election. Any other result would mean that municipal finance professionals could make contributions to issuer officials, but the ban on business would not be triggered (if at all) until election results were known.

(February 16, 1996)


III. INDIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS (Rule G-37(d))

Contributions by Spouses and Household Members

III.1
Q: Are contributions to issuer officials by municipal finance professionals’ spouses and household members covered by the rule?
A: No, unless these contributions are directed by the municipal finance professional, which is prohibited by section (d) of the rule.

(May 24, 1994)

III.2
Q: If a municipal finance professional directs a retail sales person (who is not a municipal finance professional) to make a political contribution to an issuer official, would this trigger the rule's two-year prohibition on business with that issuer?
A: Yes. Section (d) of the rule prohibits municipal finance professionals (and dealers) from using any person or means to do, directly or indirectly, any act which would violate the rule. In other words, a municipal finance professional is prohibited from using a sales person (or any other person not otherwise subject to the rule) as a conduit to circumvent the rule. Thus, contributions made, directly or indirectly, by a municipal finance professional (or a dealer) to an issuer official will subject the dealer to the rule's two-year prohibition on municipal securities business with that issuer. In addition to triggering the prohibition, the municipal finance professional in this case has violated section (d) of the rule.

(December 7, 1994)

Political Parties

III.3
Q: Are contributions to national, state or local political parties covered by the rule?
A: Any such contributions would not trigger the prohibition on business portion of the rule (section (b)) unless such entities are used as a conduit to indirectly contribute to an issuer official, which is prohibited by section (d) of the rule. However, contributions to state or local political parties must be recorded under Rule G-8(a)(xvi) and disclosed in summary form under Rule G‑37(e), except for those contributions which meet the de minimis exemption. See also Rule G-37(e).

(May 24, 1994)

Contributions to a Non-Dealer Associated PAC and Payments to a State or Local Political Party

III.4
Q: Could contributions to a non-dealer associated PAC or payments to a state or local political party lead to a ban on municipal securities business with an issuer under Rule G-37?
A: Rule G-37(d) prohibits a dealer and any municipal finance professional from doing any act indirectly which would result in a violation of the rule if done directly by the dealer or municipal finance professional. A dealer would violate Rule G-37 by doing business with an issuer after providing money to any person or entity when the dealer knows that such money will be given to an official of an issuer who could not receive such a contribution directly from the dealer without triggering the rule’s prohibition on business. For example, in certain instances, a non-dealer associated PAC or a local political party may be soliciting funds for the purpose of supporting a limited number of issuer officials. Depending upon the facts and circumstances, contributions to the PAC or payments to the political party might well result in the same prohibition on municipal securities business as would a contribution made directly to the issuer official. (August 6, 1996)

III.5
Q: If a dealer receives a fund raising solicitation from a non-dealer associated PAC or a political party with no indication of how the collected funds will be used, can the dealer make contributions to the non-dealer associated PAC or payments to the political party without causing a ban on municipal securities business?
A: Dealers should inquire of the non-dealer associated PAC or political party how any funds received from the dealer would be used. For example, if the non-dealer associated PAC or political party is soliciting funds for the purpose of supporting a limited number of issuer officials, then, depending upon the facts and circumstances, contributions to the PAC or payments to the political party might well result in the same prohibition on municipal securities business as would a contribution made directly to the issuer official.

(August 6, 1996)

Making Payments to a National Political Party for its Non-Federal Account (Rule G-37(e))

III.6
Q: If a national political party accepts payments in which contributors have designated that their payments be deposited into the account for a state or local political party, must the dealer record such payments and report them on Form G-37?
A: Yes. Rule G-37 requires that dealers record and report payments made to state and local political parties and the ultimate recipient in the above scenario is a state or local political party so designated by the contributor.

(February 16, 1996)

Supervisory Procedures Relating to Indirect Contributions

III.7
Q: Is a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer (“dealer”) required to have written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure compliance with Rule G-37(d), on indirect contributions and solicitations, with regard to payments to political parties and PACs by a dealer or its municipal finance professionals (“MFPs”)?
A: Yes. The relevant portion of the MSRB's supervision rule, Rule G-27(c), provides that, “Each dealer shall adopt, maintain and enforce written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the conduct of the municipal securities activities of the dealer and its associated persons are in compliance [with MSRB rules].”

Rule G-37(d) provides that: “No broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer or any municipal finance professional of the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall, directly or indirectly, through or by any other person or means, do any act which would result in a violation of sections (b) or (c) of this rule.” While Rule G-37 was adopted to deal specifically with contributions made to officials of issuers by dealers and municipal finance professionals, and political action committees (“PACs”) controlled by dealers or MFPs, this section of the rule also prohibits MFPs and dealers from using conduits—such as, but not limited to parties, PACs, affiliates, consultants, lawyers or spouses—to contribute indirectly to an issuer official if such MFP or dealer can not give directly to the issuer without triggering the ban on business.

In order to ensure compliance with Rule G-27(c) as it relates to payments to political parties or PACs and Rule G-37(d), each dealer must adopt, maintain and enforce written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure that neither the dealer nor its MFPs are using payments to political parties and non-dealer controlled PACs to contribute indirectly to an official of an issuer.[1] For example, a dealer's written supervisory procedures might provide that, if the dealer or any of its MFPs want to make payments to political parties or PACs, the dealer must perform adequate due diligence prior to allowing political party or PAC payments by the dealer or its MFPs to reasonably ensure that neither the dealer nor its MFPs are using payments to political parties or non-dealer controlled PACs to contribute indirectly to an official of an issuer. [2] Such due diligence also might include inquiring about and documenting the intent or motive in making the payment, whether the party payment or PAC contribution was solicited by anyone, and if so, the identification of the person soliciting the party payment and a record of written solicitations. This information will assist the dealer in determining whether the facts and circumstances surrounding the payment support the reason given for making the payment.

In addition, to ensure compliance with Rule G-37(d) in connection with contributions by dealers or MFPs to non-controlled (but affiliated) PACs,[3] the dealer might adopt information barriers between any affiliated PACs and the dealer or its MFPs. Examples of such information barrier provisions might include such things as:

• a prohibition on the dealer or MFPs from recommending, nominating, appointing or approving the management of affiliated PACs;

• a prohibition on sharing the affiliated PAC's meeting agenda, meeting schedule, or meeting minutes;

• a prohibition on identification of prior affiliated PAC contributions, planned PAC contributions or anticipated PAC contributions;

• a prohibition on directly providing or coordinating information about prior negotiated municipal securities business, solicited municipal securities business, and planned solicitations of municipal securities business; and

• other such information barriers as the firm deems appropriate to effectively monitor conflicting interests and prevent abuses.

These examples are not exclusive and are only suggestions for supervisory procedures that dealers could consider. Each dealer is required under Rule G-27, on supervision, to evaluate its own circumstances and develop written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the conduct of the municipal securities activities of the dealer and its associated persons are in compliance with Rule G-37, on indirect violations.

(September 22, 2005)


[1] In addition, pursuant to MSRB Rule G-8(a)(xx), on Records Concerning Compliance with Rule G-27, each dealer must maintain and keep current the records required under Rules G-27(c) and G-27 (d).

[2] See Rule G-37 Questions and Answers Nos. III. 4 and III.5, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book.

[3] For the purposes of this guidance the term “affiliated PAC” means a PAC controlled by an affiliated entity of a dealer. An “affiliated entity” is an entity that controls, is controlled by or is under common control with the dealer.

III.8
Q: Is a dealer required to have written supervisory procedures in place to ensure compliance with Rule G-37(d) if the dealer only allows the dealer or its municipal finance professionals (“MFPs”) to make political party payments to “housekeeping”, “conference” or “overhead” type accounts of a political party?
A: Yes. There is no safe harbor under Rule G-37 for payments to “housekeeping”, “conference” or “overhead” type political party accounts. The dealer must have adequate supervisory procedures reasonably designed to prevent a violation of Rule G-37(d), on indirect political contributions, even when the payments are being made to a “housekeeping”, “conference” or “overhead” type account. While the political party itself may prohibit direct contributions to issuer official candidates from “housekeeping” accounts, payments to these accounts might be used for political party events that are focused to benefit a specific candidate or a small number of candidates. Additionally, because money is fungible, a payment made to a fund earmarked for non-issuer official elections might “free up” other money to support the candidacy of specific issuer officials.

The need for dealers to adopt adequate written supervisory procedures to prevent indirect violations via “housekeeping”, “conference” or “overhead” type political party accounts is especially important in light of media and other reports that issuer agents have informed dealers and MFPs that, if they are prohibited from contributing directly to an issuer official's campaign, they should contribute to an affiliated party's “housekeeping” account. In addition, NASD staff has informed the MSRB that some firms make contributions to “housekeeping” accounts or PAC's with explicit instructions accompanying the payment that the specific payment is not to be used for the benefit of one or a limited number of issuer officials. The MSRB does not consider such “preemptive” disclosures or instructions sufficient to meet the dealer's obligation to perform due diligence to reasonably ensure that the payment to the political party or PAC is not being made to circumvent the requirements of Rule G-37.

(September 22, 2005)


IV. DEFINITIONS (Rule G-37(g))

Contribution

IV.1
Q: How is the term "contribution" defined in Rule G-37?
A: The term "contribution" is defined in Rule G-37(g)(i) to mean any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made: (i) for the purpose of influencing any election for federal, state or local office; (ii) for payment of debt incurred in connection with any such election; or (iii) for transition or inaugural expenses incurred by the successful candidate for state or local office.

(May 24, 1994)

IV.2
Q: Is Rule G-37 applicable to contributions given to officials of issuers who are seeking election to federal office, such as the House of Representatives, the Senate or the Presidency?
A: Yes. Rule G-37(g)(i) defines “contribution” as, among other things, any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing any election for federal, state or local office.

(June 15, 1995)

IV.3
Q: Does Rule G-37 encompass all contributions to candidates for federal office?
A: No. Rule G-37 encompasses, for federal offices, only those contributions to an official of an issuer who is seeking election to a federal office.

(May 24, 1994)

IV.4
Q: Are contributions to bond ballot campaigns subject to the requirements of Rule G-37.
A: Such political contributions are subject to the disclosure requirements of Rule G-37(e) (other than contributions made by a municipal finance professional or a non-MFP executive officer to a bond ballot campaign for a ballot initiative with respect to which such person is entitled to vote if all contributions by such person to such bond ballot campaign, in total, do not exceed $250 per ballot initiative). Although such contributions will not result in a ban on municipal securities business under Rule G-37(b), as with all MSRB rules, failure to comply with requirements of the rule (i.e., by failing to disclose such contributions) may subject dealers to fines and other disciplinary actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or other appropriate regulatory agencies.

(May 24, 1994, revised February 25, 2010)

Charitable Donations

IV.5
Q: Would a charitable donation to an organization made by a dealer at the request of an issuer official meet the definition of "contribution" in Rule G-37?
A: No. Charitable donations are not considered political contributions for purposes of Rule G‑37 and therefore are not covered by the rule.

(May 24, 1994)

Municipal Finance Professional

IV.6
Q: Who is considered a municipal finance professional?
A: To determine if a particular person is a municipal finance professional, first determine whether the person is an "associated person" of a dealer (other than a bank dealer) under Section 3(a)(18) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Act), or an associated person of a bank dealer under Section 3(a)(32) of the Act. Then determine whether the associated person fits within one of the four categories listed in the definition of municipal finance professional under Rule G-37.

Under Section 3(a)(18) of the Act, "associated person of a broker or dealer" is defined as:

  • Any partner, officer, director, or branch manager (or any person occupying a similar status or performing similar functions);
  • Any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the dealer;
  • Or any employee of such broker or dealer, except those whose functions are solely clerical or ministerial.

Under Section 3(a)(32) of the Act, "person associated with a municipal securities dealer" when used with respect to a municipal securities dealer which is a bank or a division or department of a bank means:

  • Any person directly engaged in the management, direction, supervision, or performance of any of the municipal securities dealer’s activities with respect to municipal securities; and
  • Any person directly or indirectly controlling such activities or controlled by the municipal securities dealer in connection with such activities.

Under Rule G-37(g)(iv), a municipal finance professional is defined as:

1. Any associated person primarily engaged in municipal representative activities pursuant to Rule G-3(a)(i) (such activities include underwriting, trading, sales, financial advisory and consultant services, research or investment advice on municipal securities, or any other activities which involve communication, directly or indirectly, with public investors relating to the activities listed in this paragraph), provided, however, that sales activities with natural persons shall not be considered to be municipal securities representative activities for purposes of Rule G-37(g)(iv);

2. Any associated person who solicits "municipal securities business" as defined in Rule G-37 (which includes negotiated underwriting activities, private placement activities, negotiated remarketing services, financial advisory and consultant services);

3. Any associated person who is both (i) a municipal securities principal or a municipal securities sales principal and (ii) a supervisor of any persons described in paragraphs 1 or 2 above;

4. Any associated person who is a supervisor of the associated persons described in paragraph 3 above, up through and including: (i) for dealers that are not bank dealers, the CEO or similarly situated official; and (ii) for bank dealers, the officer or officers designated by the bank's board of directors as responsible for the day-to-day conduct of the bank's dealer activities.

5. For dealers other than bank dealers: any associated person who is a member of the executive or management committee, or similarly situated officials, if any. For bank dealers: any member of the executive or management committee of the separately identifiable department or division of the bank, as defined in Rule G‑1, if any. However, if the only associated persons meeting the definition of municipal finance professional are those described in this paragraph 5, the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall be deemed to have no municipal finance professionals.

Each person listed by the dealer as a municipal finance professional is deemed to be such for purposes of Rule G-37.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.7
Q: Does the definition of municipal finance professional include all registered representatives?
A: No. The definition of municipal finance professional includes, among others, any associated person primarily engaged in municipal representative activities pursuant to Rule G-3(a)(i), but excludes sales activities with natural persons.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.8
Q: Does the definition of municipal finance professional include any associated person who solicits municipal securities business, even if this solicitation activity is a very small portion of the associated person's work?
A: Yes. Even if an associated person is not "primarily engaged in municipal representative activities," that associated person can be considered a municipal finance professional if he or she solicits municipal securities business, as defined in Rule G-37 (such business includes negotiated underwriting activities, private placement activities, negotiated remarketing services, financial advisory and consultant services).

(May 24, 1994)

IV.9
Q: Does the definition of municipal finance professional include anyone other than an associated person of the dealer, for example, consultants, lawyers or spouses of municipal finance professionals?
A: No. Municipal finance professionals must be associated persons of the dealer. Of course, if a dealer or a municipal finance professional seeks indirectly to make contributions to issuer officials through consultants, lawyers or spouses, such contributions would result in the dealer being prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer for two years from the date of such contributions.

(May 24, 1994)

Finder’s Fee

IV.10 & IV.11 Deleted

IV.12
Q: Is a "finder's fee" solely cash compensation?
A: No. Such compensation, for example, may take the form of: (i) an unusually large allocation of bonds to a particular sales person; (ii) sales credits; or (iii) any other kind of remuneration.

(December 7, 1994)

IV. 13 Deleted

Supervisors

IV.14
Q: A sales representative at a branch office solicits municipal securities business for the dealer. Such activity results in that person becoming a "municipal finance professional" under Rule G-37(g)(iv)(B). Would that person's branch manager also be considered a municipal finance professional?

A: Yes. Rule G-37(g)(iv)(C) provides that the definition of municipal finance professional includes, among others, any associated person who is both a (i) municipal securities principal or a municipal securities sales principal and (ii) a supervisor of any associated person who solicits municipal securities business (or who is primarily engaged in municipal securities representative activities). If a sales person is soliciting municipal securities business, then the supervisor of that person (i.e., the branch manager) also is included within the definition of municipal finance professional. Branch managers are included within the definition of municipal finance professional in the circumstances described above.

(March 22, 1995, revised October 30, 2003)

Designation Period for Municipal Finance Professionals

IV.15
Q: Rule G-37(g)(iv) states that each person designated a municipal finance professional shall retain this designation for one year after the last activity or position which gave rise to the designation. If a dealer terminates a municipal finance professional’s employment, and that person is no longer associated in any way with the dealer (including any affiliated entities of the dealer), must the dealer continue to designate that person a “municipal finance professional” for recordkeeping and reporting purposes under Rules G-37(g)(iv) and G-8(a)(xvi)?
A: No. If a municipal finance professional is no longer employed by the dealer, and is not an “associated person” of the dealer, then the dealer is not required to designate that person a municipal finance professional and the dealer may cease its recordkeeping and reporting obligations with respect to that person.

(August 6, 1996, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.16
Q: If a municipal finance professional is transferred from a firm’s dealer department to another non-municipal department, such as the corporate department, must the dealer continue to designate this person a municipal finance professional for recordkeeping and reporting purposes?
A: If a municipal finance professional is transferred to another department within the same firm (such as corporate, equities, etc.) and remains an “associated person” of the dealer, the dealer must continue to designate this person a municipal finance professional for one year from the date of the last activity or position which gave rise to this designation and must continue its recordkeeping and reporting obligations under Rules G-37 and G-8. It is incumbent upon each dealer to determine whether the person is an associated person pursuant to Section 3(a)(18) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. If so, then in addition to recordkeeping and reporting obligations, dealers should be mindful that any contributions made by this associated person during the one-year designation period (other than contributions that qualify for the rule’s $250 de minimis exception) will subject the dealer to the rule’s ban on municipal securities business for two years from the date of such contribution. Of course, the ban can only be triggered if the person previously was a municipal finance professional.

(August 6, 1996, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.17
Q: A municipal finance professional resigns from a dealer, but still remains an associated person of the dealer (e.g., by retaining a position in the dealer’s holding company). May the dealer cease designating this person a municipal finance professional for purposes of the recordkeeping and reporting requirements under Rules G-37 and G-8? In addition, may this person make contributions to issuer officials without causing the dealer to be banned from municipal securities business with such issuers?
A: If a person is no longer a municipal finance professional because he or she has left the dealer’s employ, but nevertheless remains an associated person of the dealer, then the dealer must continue to designate this person a municipal finance professional for one year from the last activity or position which gave rise to such designation. Moreover, any contributions by this associated person (other than those that qualify for the de minimis exception under Rule G-37(b)) will subject the dealer to the rule’s ban on municipal securities business for two years from the date of the contribution.

(August 6, 1996, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.18
Q: In making the determination of which associated persons of a dealer meet the definitions of municipal finance professional and non-MFP executive officer, is it correct to designate all the executives of the dealer (e.g., President, Executive Vice Presidents) under the category of non-MFP executive officers?

A: No. In making the determination of whether someone is a municipal finance professional or non-MFP executive officer, one must review the activities of the individual and not his or her title. Rule G-37(g)(iv) defines the term “municipal finance professional” as:

(A) any associated person primarily engaged in municipal securities representative activities, as defined in Rule G-3(a)(i), provided, however, that sales activities with natural persons shall not be considered to be municipal securities representative activities for purposes of this subparagraph (A);

(B) any associated person who solicits municipal securities business, as defined in paragraph (vii);

(C) any associated person who is both (i) a municipal securities principal or a municipal securities sales principal and (ii) a supervisor of any persons described in subparagraphs (A) or (B);

(D) any associated person who is a supervisor of any person described in subparagraph (C) up through and including, in the case of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer other than a bank dealer, the Chief Executive Officer or similarly situated official and, in the case of a bank dealer, the officer or officers designated by the board of directors of the bank as responsible for the day-to-day conduct of the bank’s municipal securities dealer activities, as required pursuant to Rule G-1(a); or

(E) any associated person who is a member of the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer (or, in the case of a bank dealer, the separately identifiable department or division of the bank, as defined in Rule G-1) executive or management committee or similarly situated officials, if any; provided, however, that, if the only associated persons meeting the definition of municipal finance professional are those described in this subparagraph (E), the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall be deemed to have no municipal finance professionals.

Rule G-37(g)(v) defines the term “non-MFP executive officer” as:

an associated person in charge of a principal business unit, division or function or any other person who performs similar policy making functions for the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer (or, in the case of a bank dealer, the separately identifiable department or division of the bank, as defined in Rule G-1), but does not include any municipal finance professional, as defined in paragraph (iv) of this section (g); provided, however, that, if no associated person of the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer meets the definition of municipal finance professional, the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall be deemed to have no non-MFP executive officers. [emphasis added]

Dealers should first review the activities of their associated persons to determine whether they are municipal finance professionals, and then, once that list of individuals has been established, conduct a review of the remaining associated persons to determine whether they are non-MFP executive officers. Dealers should pay close attention to those associated persons who are soliciting municipal securities business and, thus, will be considered municipal finance professionals.

(September 9, 1997, revised October 30, 2003 and June 8, 2006)

Non-MFP Executive Officer

IV.19
Q: Who is a non-MFP "executive officer?"
A: Pursuant to Rule G-37(g)(v), a non-MFP executive officer is defined as any associated person in charge of a principal business unit, division or function, or any other person who performs similar policy making functions for the dealer (or, in the case of a bank dealer, the separately identifiable department or division of the bank, as defined in Rule G-1), but does not include any municipal finance professional.

(May 24, 1994)

IV.20
Q: In a bank with a separately identifiable dealer department, who would be considered a non-MFP executive officer?
A: For most bank dealer departments which deal only in municipal securities, there are no individuals who meet the definition of non-MFP executive officer within Rule G-37.

(August 18, 1994)

Official of an Issuer

IV.21
Q: How is the term "official of an issuer" defined in Rule G-37?
A: Rule G-37(g)(vi) defines the term "official of an issuer" to mean “any person (including any election committee for such person) who was, at the time of the contribution, an incumbent, candidate or successful candidate: (A) for elective office of the issuer which office is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by the issuer; or (B) for any elective office of a state or of any political subdivision, which office has authority to appoint any person who is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by an issuer. Thus, contributions to certain state-wide executive or legislative officials would be included within the prohibition on engaging in municipal securities business.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

IV.22
Q: How can a dealer determine whether an incumbent or candidate for a particular elective office will be able to award or influence the awarding of municipal securities business? For example, in many states, such influence is found in executive branch elected officials, not legislative branch officials.
A: The dealer must review the scope of authority of the particular office at issue, whether executive or legislative branch, not the individual, to determine whether influence over the awarding of municipal securities business is present.

(May 24, 1994)

IV.23
Q: An incumbent was seeking re-election as an issuer official but she lost the election. She is now soliciting money to pay for the debt incurred in connection with this election. Would there be a prohibition on engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer if a dealer or a municipal finance professional provides money for the payment of this debt?
A: No, under certain conditions. If the incumbent is out of office at the time she is soliciting money to pay for the election debt, then she is no longer considered to be within the definition of “official of an issuer” and any monies given for the payment of debt incurred in connection with the election in this instance is not subject to Rule G-37. If the incumbent still holds her issuer official position at the time she is soliciting money to pay for the election debt, then, if a municipal finance professional contributed $250 to her during the general election, the municipal finance professional would not be able to make any contributions for the payment of debt without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer. If a municipal finance professional made no contributions to the incumbent prior to the election, then the municipal finance professional may, if entitled to vote for the candidate, contribute up to $250 for the payment of debt incurred in connection with the election while the incumbent is still in office without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business. A dealer may not contribute any monies towards the payment of debt while the incumbent is still in office without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer.

(September 9, 1997)

Dealer-Controlled PAC

IV.24
Q: What is a "dealer-controlled" PAC?
A: Each dealer must determine whether a PAC is dealer controlled. For dealers, other than bank dealers, one may assume that any PAC of the dealer would be considered a dealer-controlled PAC for purposes of Rule G-37. For bank dealers, it will depend upon whether the dealer or anyone from the dealer department has the ability to direct or cause the direction of the management or the policies of the PAC.

(May 24, 1994)

V. SCOPE OF WAIVER PROVISION IN RULE G-37(i)

V.1
Q: If an enforcement agency grants an exemption from a ban on municipal securities business pursuant to Rule G-37(i), may this exemption be applied retroactively so that any municipal securities business engaged in after the ban had gone into effect but prior to the date on which the exemption was granted would not be viewed as a Rule G-37 violation?
A: Rule G-37(i) allows the enforcement agencies to exempt a dealer from a ban on municipal securities business. It is the Board’s view that such an exemption is only effective as of the date of the exemption. Rule G-37(i) does not contain a provision allowing for the retroactive application of the exemption. Thus, a dealer would violate Rule G-37 if, prior to the date of the exemption, the dealer engaged in municipal securities business with an issuer while subject to a ban with this issuer because of a political contribution. As with any violation of a Board rule, the enforcement agencies have discretion in determining the type and extent of enforcement action appropriate for such violation, in light of the specific facts and circumstances. If an enforcement agency has granted an exemption to a dealer from the ban on municipal securities business, the facts and circumstances considered by such agency in granting the exemption could appropriately also be considered (together with any other relevant facts and circumstances) in determining what, if any, enforcement action should be taken against such dealer if it had engaged in municipal securities business after the ban on such business became effective but prior to the date on which the exemption was granted.

(March 1, 2000)

VI. RECORDKEEPING AND REPORTING (Rules G-37(e), G-8 and G-9)

VI.1
Q: If a dealer has instituted an internal voluntary ban on political contributions, is the dealer still subject to the recordkeeping requirements?
A: Yes. The Board amended Rule G-8 and G-9, on recordkeeping and record retention, respectively, to require each dealer to maintain records of certain information. This recordkeeping is designed to assist dealers in determining whether or not they may engage in business with a particular issuer, as well as to facilitate compliance with, and enforcement of, Rule G-37.

(May 24, 1994)

VI.2
Q: Rule G-8 requires dealers to record all issuers with which the dealer has engaged in municipal securities business. The term "issuer" includes the issuer of a separate security as defined in SEC Rule 3b-5(a) under the Act. In the context of industrial revenue bond issues, for example, the issuer of a separate security is a private corporation, not a government entity. Must we record these "issuers"?
A: No. Such private corporations, which are not an agency or instrumentality of a state or any political subdivision, need not be recorded. Of course, dealers are required to record the governmental issuer in these situations, for both taxable and tax-exempt municipal securities.

(December 7, 1994)

VI.3
Q:
What are the reporting requirements under rule G-37?
A: Dealers are required to submit Form G-37/G-38 to the MSRB by the last day of the month following the end of each calendar quarter. These submission dates correspond to January 31, April 30, July 31 and October 31 of each year. There is no fixed time frame for submission of Form G-37x. However, if a dealer wishes to rely on the Form G-37x exemption from the Form G-37/G-38 submission requirement for a particular calendar quarter, Form G-37x must be submitted by no later than the submission deadline for such quarter.

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

VI.4
Q: Under what circumstances must Form G-37/G-38 be filed with the Board?
A: Form G-37/G-38 must be submitted to the Board for a calendar quarter if ANY one of the following occurred: (i) reportable political contributions or payments to political parties were made during the reporting period, unless the dealer has previously submitted Form G-37x and the submission remains effective; (ii) the dealer engaged in municipal securities business during the reporting period; or (iii) the dealer used consultants during the reporting period (i.e., new or continuing relationship with consultants).

(May 24, 1994, revised October 30, 2003)

VI.5
Q: Does a dealer have to complete the section of Form G-37/G-38 concerning issuers with whom the dealer has engaged in municipal securities business if the only municipal securities related business engaged in during the reporting period was as a selling group member?
A: No. Rule G-37 does not define "municipal securities business" to include selling group member activities.

(May 24, 1994)

VI.6
Q: Which contributions must be disclosed to the Board on Form G-37/G-38?
A: Those contributions which are required to be recorded pursuant to rule G-8(a)(xvi). These include (i) the contributions, direct or indirect, to officials of an issuer and to political parties of states and political subdivisions made by the dealer and each PAC controlled by the dealer (or controlled by any municipal finance professional of such dealer); (ii) the contributions, direct or indirect, to officials of an issuer made by each municipal finance professional and non-MFP executive officer, however, such records need not reflect any contribution made by a municipal finance professional or non-MFP executive officer to officials of an issuer for whom such person is entitled to vote if the contributions by each such person, in total, are not in excess of $250 to any official of an issuer, per election; (iii) the contributions, direct or indirect, to political parties of states and political subdivisions made by all municipal finance professionals and non-MFP executive officers, however, such records need not reflect those contributions made by any municipal finance professional or non-MFP executive officer to a political party of a state or political subdivision in which such persons are entitled to vote if the contributions by each such person, in total, are not in excess of $250 per political party, per year; (iv) the contributions, direct or indirect, to bond ballot campaigns made by the dealer and each PAC controlled by the dealer (or controlled by any municipal finance professional of such dealer); and (v) the contributions, direct or indirect, to bond ballot campaigns made by each municipal finance professional and non-MFP executive officer, however, such records need not reflect any contributions made by a municipal finance professional or non-MFP executive officer to a bond ballot campaign for a ballot initiative with respect to which such person is entitled to vote if the contributions by such person, in total, are not in excess of $250 to any bond ballot campaign, per ballot initiative.

(May 24, 1994, revised February 25, 2010)

VI.7
Q: May non-dealers (e.g., attorneys, independent financial advisors) voluntarily submit information on political contributions and other activities to the Board?
A:
Yes, as long as the filing procedures are followed.

(May 24, 1994)

VI.8
Q: Will the Forms G-37 submitted to the Board be available for public review?

A: Yes. The Forms G-37/G-38 and Forms G-37x submitted to the Board are posted on the Board’s website for viewing (www.msrb.org).

(May 24, 1994, revised June 14, 2010)

VI.9
Q: May a holding company submit to the Board one Form G-37/G-38 reflecting information for various dealers within the control of the holding company?

A: No. A separate Form G-37/G-38 must be submitted for each dealer.

(February 16, 1996)

VI.10
Q: Rule G-37(e) requires, among other things, that dealers submit information to the Board on Form G-37/G-38 about the municipal securities business in which they engaged. Is information about the municipal securities business engaged in required to be submitted by all syndicate and selling group members, or is it only the responsibility of the manager(s) to submit such information on behalf of the syndicate?
A: All manager(s) and syndicate members (excluding selling group members) must separately report the municipal securities business in which they engaged.

(September 9, 1997)

VI.11
Q: Are dealers required to identify the type of contributor (i.e. dealer, dealer controlled PAC, MFP, MFP controlled PAC, or non-MFP executive officer) when completing Form G-37/G-38?
A: Yes. Rule G-37 (e)(i)(2) requires dealers to report to the Board on its Form G-37/G-38 the contribution or payment amount made and the contributor category of each of the following persons and entities making such contributions or payments during each calendar quarter: the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer; each municipal finance professional; each non-MFP executive officer; and each political action committee controlled by the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer or by any municipal finance professional. It is not sufficient to list contributors as “employee” or “registered representative.” For each contribution listed on the Form G-37/G-38, one of the specified contributor categories must be identified.

(February 25, 2004)

VI.12
Q: How should contributions to officials of issuers who are seeking federal office be reported on Form G-37/G-38?
A: Under Rule G-37, contributions given to officials of issuers who are seeking election to federal office, such as the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate or the Presidency, must be reported on the dealer's quarterly Form G-37/G-38 unless they meet the de minimis exception. When reporting these contributions, dealers must report information identifying the issuer official. Firms may additionally report information identifying the federal office sought. For example, if a sitting Governor of a state were running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Governor is an “official of an issuer,” the form must list the state where the official is serving as Governor, and the Governor's complete name and title. Dealers may also report the federal office sought by the issuer official.

(February 25, 2004)