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Notice 2011-68 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-66 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
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Guidance on the Prohibition on Underwriting Issues of Municipal Securities for Which a Financial Advisory Relationship Exists Under Rule G-23
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Rule G-23

MSRB Rule G-23 establishes certain basic requirements applicable to a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer (“dealer”) acting as a financial advisor with respect to the issuance of municipal securities.  MSRB Rule G-23(d) provides that a dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to the issuance of municipal securities is precluded from acquiring all or any portion of such issue, directly or indirectly, from the issuer as principal, either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for that purpose.  A dealer is also precluded from arranging the placement of an issue with respect to which it has a financial advisory relationship.  This notice refers to both of these activities as “underwritings” and provides interpretive guidance on when a dealer may be precluded by Rule G-23(d) from underwriting an issue of municipal securities due to having served as financial advisor with respect to that issue.  Rule G-23 is solely a conflicts rule.  Accordingly, this notice does not address whether provision of the advice permitted by Rule G-23 would cause the dealer to be considered a “municipal advisor” under the Exchange Act and the rules promulgated thereunder.

Rule G-23(b) provides, among other things, that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist for purposes of Rule G-23 when a dealer renders or enters into an agreement to provide financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues.  Rule G-23(b) also provides, however, that a financial advisory relationship shall not be deemed to exist when, in the course of acting as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor, a dealer provides advice to an issuer, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning the issuance of municipal securities.

Although Rule G-23(c) requires a financial advisory relationship to be evidenced by a writing, a financial advisory relationship will be deemed to exist whenever a dealer renders the types of advice provided for in Rule G-23(b), regardless of the existence of a written agreement.  However, a dealer that clearly identifies itself in writing as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor from the earliest stages of its relationship with the issuer with respect to that issue (e.g., in a response to a request for proposals or in promotional materials provided to an issuer) will be considered to be “acting as an underwriter” under Rule G-23(b) with respect to that issue.  The writing must make clear that the primary role of an underwriter is to purchase, or arrange for the placement of, securities in an arm’s-length commercial transaction between the issuer and the underwriter and that the underwriter has financial and other interests that differ from those of the issuer.  The dealer must not engage in a course of conduct that is inconsistent with an arm’s-length relationship with the issuer in connection with such issue of municipal securities or the dealer will be deemed to be a financial advisor with respect to that issue and precluded from underwriting that issue by Rule G-23(d).  Thus, a dealer providing advice to an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities (including the structure, timing, and terms of the issue and other similar matters, when integrally related to the issue being underwritten) will not be viewed as a financial advisor for purposes of Rule G-23, if such advice is rendered in its capacity as underwriter for such issue.  In addition to engaging in underwriting activities, it shall not be a violation of Rule G-23(d) for a dealer that states that it is acting as an underwriter with respect to the issuance of municipal securities to provide advice with respect to the investment of the proceeds of the issue, municipal derivatives integrally related to the issue, or other similar matters concerning the issue.

Notice 2011-65 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-64 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-63 - Request for Comment
Publication date: | Comment due:
Information for:

1.  Alternative Regulatory Solutions, L.L.C.: Letter from Kimberly McManus, President, dated December 13, 2011

2.  Bond Dealers of America: Letter from Michael Nicholas, CEO, dated December 13, 2011

3.  Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Letter from David L. Cohen, Managing Director, Associate General Counsel, dated December 13, 2011

4.  TMC Bonds L.L.C.: Letter from John S. Craft, Director of Sales and Marketing, dated December 13, 2011

Notice 2011-62 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-61 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-59 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-57 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
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Reminder Regarding the Application of Rule G-37 to Federal Election Campaigns of Issuer Officials
Rule Number:

In 1999, the 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 28, 2011


[1] See Application of Rule G-37 to Presidential Campaigns of Issuer Officials reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2011) at 299-300.  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, 2011) at 309-311.  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, 2011) at 302-303; 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, 2011) at 290; and Rule G-37 Question and Answer No. III.7 regarding supervisory procedures relating to indirect contributions, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2011) at 291.  The notice and Questions and Answers are also available on the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org.

Notice 2011-55 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-51 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Notice 2011-52 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-50 - Request for Comment
Publication date: | Comment due:
Information for:

Rule Number:

Rule G-8, Rule G-9


1.  Bond Dealers of America: Letter from Michael Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer, dated November 3, 2011

2.  Dolan, Tom: Letter dated October 21, 2011

3.  Hartfield, Titus & Donnelly, LLC: Letter from Mark J. Epstein, President and CEO, dated November 3, 2011

4.  Knight BondPoint: Letter from Marshall Nicholson, Managing Director, dated November 3, 2011

5.  Regional Brokers, Inc.: Letter from Joseph A. Hemphill III, President, and H. Deane Armstrong, CCO, dated November 1, 2011

6.  Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Letter from Leslie M. Norwood, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, dated November 2, 2011

7.  TMC Bonds L.L.C.: Letter from Thomas S. Vales, Chief Executive Officer, dated November 3, 2011

8.  Vista Securities, Inc.: Letter from Paul Larkin, President, dated November 1, 2011

9.  Wolfe & Hurst Bond Brokers, Inc.: Letter from O. Gene Hurst, President, dated November 3, 2011

Notice 2011-48 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-46 - Informational Notice
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