MSRB NOTICE 2008-38 (SEPTEMBER 11, 2008)

REMINDER REGARDING THE APPLICATION OF RULE G-37 TO FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGNS OF ISSUER OFFICIALS

In 1999, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) published a notice on the application of Rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, to Presidential campaigns of issuer officials.[1]  In general, the notice described a 1995 interpretive letter[2] in which the Board noted that Rule G-37 is applicable to contributions given to an official of an issuer[3] who seeks election to federal office, such as the Presidency.  The Board also explained that the only exception to Rule G-37’s absolute prohibition on business is for certain contributions made to issuer officials by municipal finance professionals.  Specifically, contributions by such persons to an official of an issuer would not invoke application of the prohibition if the municipal finance professional is entitled to vote for such official, and provided that any contributions by such municipal finance professional do not exceed, in total, $250 to each official, per election.  In the example of an issuer official running for President, any municipal finance professional in the country can contribute the de minimis amount to the official’s Presidential campaign without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  Finally, the Board noted that a Presidential candidate who has accepted public funding for the general election is prohibited under federal law from accepting any contributions to further his or her general election campaign.  In these circumstances, federal law allows individuals to contribute to the candidate’s compliance fund, which uses the contributions solely for legal and accounting services to ensure compliance with federal law and not for campaign activities.  Thus, any municipal finance professional in the country can contribute the de minimis amount to an issuer official’s compliance fund without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  This would apply if the issuer official runs for President or Vice President.

The MSRB wishes to remind dealers that these concepts also apply to an issuer official who campaigns for any federal office.  For example, any municipal finance professional residing in a state in which an issuer official is campaigning for a state-wide federal office may contribute the de minimis amount to the official’s campaign without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  The MSRB does not opine whether any particular individual is or is not an issuer official. 

The MSRB also wishes to remind dealers to be aware of the Rule G-37 issues involving indirect rule violations and contributions to non-dealer associated political action committees and payments to political parties, which issues have been the subjects of previous notices and interpretive Questions and Answers.[4]

September 11, 2008


[1] See Application of Rule G-37 to Presidential Campaigns of Issuer Officials reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 246-247.  The notice is also available from the MSRB Rules/Interpretive Notices section of the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org

[2] See MSRB Interpretation of May 31, 1995, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 251-253.  The letter is also available from the MSRB Rules/Interpretive Letters section of the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org.

[3] The term “official of an issuer” is defined in Rule G-37(g)(vi) 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 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. 

[4] See Notice Concerning Indirect Rule Violations: Rules G-37 and G-38, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 248-249; Rule G-37 Questions and Answers Nos.  III.4 and III.5 regarding contributions to a non-dealer associated PAC and payments to a state or local political party, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 240; and Rule G-37 Question and Answer No. III.7 regarding supervisory procedures relating to indirect contributions, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 240-241.  The notice and Questions and Answers are also available on the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org