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Solicitation of Contributions Rule G-37

Solicitation of contributions. This is in response to your letter dated September 29, 1994 regarding rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business. You review a situation regarding a municipal finance professional's participation in a fundraising event for a certain state official. You seek guidance on two matters. First, you inquire whether the activities of the municipal finance professional in connection with this fundraiser constitute a violation of the solicitation prohibition in rule G-37(c). Second, you inquire that, if a violation of rule G-37(c) occurred, would such violation subject your firm to a two-year ban on municipal securities business with the state. The Board has reviewed your letter and authorized this response.

Rule G-37(b) prohibits dealers 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 political action committee controlled by the dealer or municipal finance professional.[1] Rule G-37(c) provides that no dealer or any municipal finance professional shall solicit any person or political action committee to make any contribution, or shall coordinate any contributions, to an official of an issuer with which the dealer is engaging or is seeking to engage in municipal securities business.

With regard to your first inquiry, the Board is not the appropriate authority to determine whether in this instance the municipal finance professional's activities amounted to a solicitation of contributions in violation of rule G-37(c). While the Board has authority to adopt rules concerning transactions in municipal securities effected by brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers, it has no enforcement authority over dealers; that authority is vested with the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) for securities firms. Whether a particular activity should be characterized as a solicitation of a contribution and a violation of the rule is fact specific, and further inquiry and investigation may be appropriate prior to a determination of violation. The Board believes that it is more appropriate for the NASD to make such inquiries and determinations. Your letter has been forwarded to the NASD for its review.

The Board believes, however, that if a dealer's or a municipal finance professional's name appears on fundraising literature for an issuer official for which the dealer is engaging or seeking to engage in municipal securities business, there is a presumption that such activity is a solicitation by the named party.

With regard to your second inquiry, a violation of rule G-37(c) does not trigger a two-year ban on engaging in municipal securities business with an issuer. If the NASD finds a violation of rule G-37(c) has occurred, the NASD will determine the appropriate sanction.

Finally, rule G-27, on supervision, requires each dealer to adopt, maintain and enforce written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure compliance with Board rules, including rule G-37. In view of the significant penalties associated with rule G-37, including a two-year ban on municipal securities business with an issuer in certain cases, effective compliance procedures are essential. We recognize that some dealers may focus their compliance procedures on the areas in the rule concerning certain political contributions. Rule G-37 has other important provisions, however, such as the prohibition against certain solicitations and the recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Given the situation presented in your letter, your firm may wish to review its procedures to determine whether they are sufficient to ensure compliance with all provisions of rule G-37. MSRB Interpretation of November 7, 1994.


[1]  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.