Back in late April, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board banned pay-to-play political contributions from bond dealers, but it left a loophole, and Merrill Lynch & Co. took advantage of it in Orange County.

Michael Stamenson, the Merrill Lynch salesman who sold billions of dollars worth of risky structured securities to the Orange County investment fund, is not, strictly speaking, a "municipal finance professional," Merrill Lynch said so in a statement issued on Friday, Dec. 9.

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