Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. says he is interested in meeting with representatives of minority- and woman-owned firms to get their input on possible regulations covering political contributions and secondary market disclosure.
"I intend to meet with women's groups and minority groups that feel that they are being impacted by these actions. I'd like to understand their point of view," Levitt said Tuesday during an hour-long interview with reporters and editors at The Bond Buyer in New York City.
No such meeting has been scheduled yet, the SEC chairman said. He added that he has not been directly contacted by any groups.
"Nobody has approached me, to the best of my knowledge, about this," Levitt said.
A spokeswoman for Levitt said that Raymond J. McClendon, chairman of the National Association of Securities Professionals, spoke with an assistant to the SEC chairman last week. McClendon was requesting an invitation to a session on secondary market disclosure held by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board last week, which Levitt attended.
McClendon, the vice chairman of Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co., was told that a call would be placed to the MSRB to garner an invitation on behalf of NASP, the spokesman said.
However, McClendon, who also sent a letter to Levitt requesting an invitation to the meeting, has said he was told only that the SEC was not convening the session and that he should contact the MSRB directly.
Unable to get a response from the MSRB, McClendon did not attend the Oct. 13 meeting at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
After the meeting, Christopher Taylor, executive director of the MSRB who received a copy of McClendon's letter to Levitt, said, "There does seem to be some confusion on their [NASP's] part as to what yesterday's meeting was about."
Taylor said he believed NASP thought that political contributions would be discussed at the session and they were not.
A copy of the letter sent to Levitt and obtained by The Bond Buyer refers to "a closed door meeting with industry groups" to "begin developing a list of the minimum items of ongoing disclosure that all issuers would have to reveal." It does not mention political contributions.
The NASP is a trade association that represents minorities and women, and minority-and woman-owned securities firms.
The organization has complained that it has not been included in the SEC's and MSRB's latest round of discussions on possible regulations for secondary market disclosure and political contributions that will have an impact on the municipal bond industry.
NASP also did not have a representative at a meeting on political contributions Monday between Levitt and executives from major Wall Street investment banks.
"It was decided that only the largest underwriters would be involved in that process," so it would have been "inappropriate" to have smaller groups attend, Levitt said of that session.
McClendon did attend a meeting held by the SEC Wednesday on secondary market disclosure.
The NASP also plans to contact Levitt again about setting up a meeting with representatives of minority-and woman-owned firms to discuss contributions and continuing disclosure, McClendon said.
"We are very disappointed because we feel this shows a lack of sensitivity for the critical role that small, minority, and woman-owned firms play in the municipal industry," McClendon said yesterday.
"We have been invited to the disclosure meetings," but so far no minority, women, or regional [firms] have participated in the discussions on campaign contributions, McClendon said. "We are disappointed not to be at the table and a part of the debate."