WASHINGTON -- Most municipal bond dealers are abstaining from making political contributions to state or local government officials, the first reports filed to comply with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's Rule G-37 show.
As droves of dealers rushed to beat the July 31 deadline for filing the first quarterly reports required by the rule, a review of the first 100 reports filed by late Friday indicated that about 18 dealers reported that they or their individual employees had given contributions to the campaigns of state or local government officials.
The contributions range from $200 to $26,200.
Rule G-37, which took effect April 25, bars dealers from doing business with a state or local government for two years after the dealer, its political action committee, or its municipal finance professionals make a political gift to an official of the government. Individual employees, however, can still give up to $250 to candidates running for office in the jurisdictions where the employees live.
Dealers must file a two-part form with the MSRB that shows both the contributions made by the firms and the names of issuers with which the firm has done any negotiated business in the last quarter.
The first part of the form asks firms to state the name and title of the state or local official that received any contribution and the total number and dollar amounts of the gifts, by dealer and by political action committee.
It asks the firm to list the total number of municipal finance professionals and executive officers that gave contributions and the total amount. Firms do not have to break down the contributions by individual employee on Form G-37, although some firms reporting as of Friday did list individuals' names.
The second part of the form asks dealers to list the issuers with which they have done negotiated deals and the name, role, and compensation arrangement of consultants.
The first 100 reports filed showed that Lazard Freres & Co. reported no contributions for the quarter. The firm has been under scrutiny for months as federal investigators examine fee-splitting arrangements between Lazard and Merrill Lynch & Co.
Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. reported that four executives contributed a total of $26,150 to the election or reelection committees of four candidates, including California Gov. Pete Wilson. The firm also reported that municipal professionals contributed $50 during the quarter to a candidate for the Orange City, Calif., city council. Schwab said it did no business during the quarter with any issuers.
Bear, Stearns & Co. reported that its political action committee made a total of $5,000 in contributions to the "Convention 94 Account" of the New York State Democratic Committee. Officials of the firm, which was senior or co-manager on offerings by five New York state issuers, referred questions to the firm's press office, which did not comment.
Contributions to national, state, or local political parties are not covered by Rule G-37 unless the committee is being used as a "conduit to indirectly contribute to an issuer official," according to a recent MSRB notice that answers 40 frequently asked questions about Rule G-37.
Sandler, O'Neill & Partners in New York City reported a total of $2,550 in contributions, most of which appear to be municipal finance professionals. It said, for instance, that 13 employees each gave $100 to Mark S. Singel, a candidate for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. The firm listed the names of all 13 contributors even though it is not required to do so by Rule G-37.
Rule G-37 allows individual dealers to give up to $250 to candidates running for office in the jurisdictions where the employees live. But they may not coordinate, or "bundle," contributions to an official of an issuer with whom the dealer is engaging or trying to engage i.n municipal business. An official of the firm was not available for further explanation of the contributions.
The firm reported that it did not engage in municipal business with any issuers in the quarter from April 25 to June 30. It added that two employees contributed a total of $1,000 to a candidate for the Washington state house of representatives and one employee gave $250 to U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, R-NY.
Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. said that the firm gave two contributions totaling $20,000 to Gov. Pete Wilson and reported no municipal securities business for the quarter. George K. Baum & Co. of Denver reported that the firm gave $1,000 contributions each to the Missouri Republican and Democratic parties. It also said that it engaged in negotiated underwriting or was financial adviser to 43 issuers during the quarter.
Porter, White & Co. of Birmingham, Ala., reported that three employees gave five contributions totaling $1,100, none over $250, to candidates for lieutenant governor, state senate, and state assessor. The firm said it had done financial advisory business with the city of Birmingham in Jefferson County during the quarter.
Morgan Keegan & Co., which is based in Memphis, reported one $1,000 contribution to Charles Salvaggio, mayor of Germantown, Tenn., a candidate for the U.S. Congress. Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. reported $890 in contributions by two employees to state and local candidates in two states. The largest was a $300 contribution to state Sen. George E. Pataki, a Republican candidate for governor.
Only about six of the 100 firms surveyed reported that they used outside consultants. Bear, Stearns & Co. said it had hired consultant Kevin B. Harrington of Issues Management Inc. on a monthly retainer of $3,000 in connection with some Massachusetts deals for which the firm had been co-manager. The firm also hired consultant James Wimmer of Wimmer & Co. on a monthly retainer of $2,500 plus $3,000 quarterly concerning Wisconsin deals.
Rauscher Pierce Refsnes Inc., which reported no contributions for the quarter, said it pays consultants between $13,570 and $23,570 for deals involving five issuers nationwide, including Pavlik & Assoc., Gary Traylor and Associates, Dr. Jack Johnson, Dr, Charles Thomas, and Bill Morrow. Company affiliates were not given for Johnson. Thomas, and Morrow.
Corby North Bridge Securities Inc. reported that it hires Robert L. Harding on a monthly retainer in connection with Commonwealth of Massachusetts deals.
Shawmut Bank Connecticut retains Russell Galipo for $50 an hour to help the bank maintain its relationship as financial adviser to 64 towns and school districts. Kemper Securities Inc. said it retained National Institutional Investors Inc. as a consultant on a City of Las Vegas Downtown Redevelopment Agency deal and Kimball Young as a consultant for some Utah lease revenue bond issues.
Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. says it pays Rogelio R. Santos of Kingwood, Tex., a $3,000 consultant fee monthly in connection with Texas deals.