WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday that nine more bond underwriting firms have endorsed Wall Street's voluntary ban on political contributions, bringing the total to 51.
The newest firms to join the groundbreaking accord that was announced Oct. 18 by 19 major underwriters are: Artemis Capital Group Inc.; Barr Brothers & Co.; Craigie Inc.; Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson Inc.; Hanifen, Imhoff Inc.; LaSalle National Bank and LaSalle National Capital Markets; E.A. Moos, L.P.; Samuel A. Ramirez & Co.; and William E. Simon & Sons Municipal Securities Inc.
By signing the initiative, the firms have agreed to discontinue the practice of making political contributions that attempt or appear to attempt to influence the selection of the firm as an underwriter.
The voluntary ban is designed to dovetail with a rule that the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has adopted and plans to send to the Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-January. The MSRB rule would generally bar dealers who make contributions to politicians from doing business for two years with the cities and states served by those officials.
A Public Securities Association task force is scheduled to meet today in New York to review a draft of model policies and procedures that regional firms can adopt to implement the MSRB's proposed rule. The task force is co-chaired by Nelson Civello, executive vice president and director of Dain Bosworth Inc., and John Adams, senior vice president of Trust Company of Atlanta.
James Frein, chairman of the PSA's regional advisory committee, said in a recent interview that the task force has several subgroups, including one that is developing model supervisory procedures for firm officials to follow in implementing the MSRB rule. A second task force is developing model forms that firms can use to report contributions.
The PSA task force meeting is being held in response to a recent letter from SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. to 11 public interest groups asking them to "provide a process" to help their members establish voluntary internal bans on political contributions to issuer clients. The letter was sent to groups representing dealers, bond lawyers, financial advisers, and issuers.
The nine firms named yesterday by the SEC represent the second wave of underwriters to sign on to the voluntary accord.
Earlier this month the SEC announced that 23 dealers had signed on to the ban, including: George K. Baum & Co.; The Chicago Corporation; Clayton Brown & Associates Inc.; Comerica Bank; Dain Bosworth Inc.; Dougherty, Dawkins, Strand & Bigelow Inc.; First Albany Corp.; First Chicago Capital Markets Inc.; Gruntal & Co.; Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co.; Edward D. Jones & Co.; Lebenthal & Co.; Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc.; Miller & Schroeder Financial Inc.; The Principal /Eppler, Guerin & Turner Inc.; Rauscher Pierce Refsnes inc.; Roosevelt & Cross Inc.; Shawmut Bank; Herbert J. Sims & Co.; Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.; Stone & Youngberg; Trust Company Bank: and Tucker Anthony Inc.
The MSRB said Tuesday that it will delay the effective date of its political contributions rule until April 1 and has voted to beef up the rule's disclosure requirements One revision is expected to address a concern raised recently by Levitt that firms should be required to disclose directly to the MSRB any contributions that they make to issuer clients.