MSRB NOTICE 2001-42 (NOVEMBER 21, 2001)

ACTIVITIES BY DEALERS AND MUNICIPAL FINANCE PROFESSIONALS DURING TRANSITION PERIODS FOR ELECTED ISSUER OFFICIALS

The MSRB has received inquiries on the applicability of rule G-37 to certain activities by dealers and municipal finance professionals relating to the transition period during which an issuer official has won an election but has not yet taken office.  The definition of “contribution” in rule G-37(g)(i) includes any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made for transition or inaugural expenses incurred by the successful candidate.

The MSRB stated in a Question and Answer Notice dated May 24, 1994 (Q&A number 24) that rule G-37 is not intended to prohibit or restrict municipal finance professionals from engaging in personal volunteer work; however, 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.  In addition, 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.  In a Question and Answer Notice dated August 18, 1994 (Q&A number 3), the MSRB stated that 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).  Thus, rule G-37 does not prohibit a municipal finance professional from serving on an issuer official’s transition team or performing other transition-related activities; however, as noted above, the use of dealer resources in connection with such activity would be considered a contribution by the dealer to the issuer official thereby resulting in the dealer being prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer for two years.

The MSRB also recognizes that dealers and their municipal finance professionals may solicit issuer officials for municipal securities business during the transition period prior to these officials taking office.  In the course of making such solicitations, dealers may sometimes prepare and present materials such as financing plans and economic development studies.  The provision of these types of materials to an issuer official during the transition period would not constitute contributions under rule G-37 if performed as part of a solicitation for municipal securities business.

Finally, in a Question and Answer Notice dated September 9, 1997 (Q&A number 1), the MSRB addressed whether a municipal finance professional who is entitled to vote for an issuer official may make contributions to pay for such official’s transition or inaugural expenses without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer.  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.

November 21, 2001