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2030. Engaging in Distribution and Solicitation Activities with Government Entities

(a) Limitation on Distribution and Solicitation Activities
No covered member shall engage in distribution or solicitation activities for compensation with a government entity on behalf of an investment adviser that provides or is seeking to provide investment advisory services to such government entity within two years after a contribution to an official of the government entity is made by the covered member or a covered associate (including a person who becomes a covered associate within two years after the contribution is made).
(b) Prohibition on Soliciting and Coordinating Contributions
No covered member or covered associate may solicit or coordinate any person or political action committee to make any:
(1) Contribution to an official of a government entity in respect of which the covered member is engaging in, or seeking to engage in, distribution or solicitation activities on behalf of an investment adviser; or
(2) Payment to a political party of a state or locality of a government entity with which the covered member is engaging in, or seeking to engage in, distribution or solicitation activities on behalf of an investment adviser.
(c) Exceptions
(1) De minimis Exception
Paragraph (a) shall not apply to contributions made by a covered associate that is a natural person, to officials for whom the covered associate was entitled to vote at the time of the contributions and which in the aggregate do not exceed $350 to any one official, per election, or to officials for whom the covered associate was not entitled to vote at the time of the contributions and which in the aggregate do not exceed $150 to any one official, per election.
(2) Exception for Certain New Covered Associates
The prohibitions of paragraph (a) shall not apply to a covered member as a result of a contribution made by a natural person more than six months prior to becoming a covered associate of the covered member unless such person, after becoming a covered associate, engages in, or seeks to engage in, distribution or solicitation activities with a government entity on behalf of the covered member.
(3) Exception for Certain Returned Contributions
(A) A covered member that is prohibited from engaging in distribution or solicitation activities with a government entity pursuant to paragraph (a) as a result of a contribution made by a covered associate is excepted from such prohibition, subject to subparagraphs (B) and (C) below, upon satisfaction of the following requirements:
(i) The covered member must have discovered the contribution that resulted in the prohibition within four months of the date of such contribution;
(ii) Such contribution must not have exceeded $350; and
(iii) The contributor must obtain a return of the contribution within 60 calendar days of the date of discovery of such contribution by the covered member.
(B) In any calendar year, a covered member that has reported on its annual Schedule I to Form X-17A-5 that it has more than 150 registered persons is entitled to no more than three exceptions pursuant to subparagraph (A), and a covered member that has reported on its annual Schedule I to Form X-17A-5 that it has 150 or fewer registered persons is entitled to no more than two exceptions pursuant to subparagraph (A).
(C) A covered member may not rely on the exception provided in subparagraph (A) more than once with respect to contributions by the same covered associate of the covered member regardless of time period.
(d) Prohibitions as Applied to Covered Investment Pools
For purposes of this Rule:
(1) A covered member that engages in distribution or solicitation activities with a government entity on behalf of a covered investment pool in which a government entity invests or is solicited to invest shall be treated as though that covered member was engaging in or seeking to engage in distribution or solicitation activities with the government entity on behalf of the investment adviser to the covered investment pool directly; and
(2) An investment adviser to a covered investment pool in which a government entity invests or is solicited to invest shall be treated as though that investment adviser were providing or seeking to provide investment advisory services directly to the government entity.
(e) Further Prohibitions
It shall be a violation of this Rule for any covered member or any of its covered associates to do anything indirectly that, if done directly, would result in a violation of this Rule.
(f) Exemptions
FINRA, upon application, may conditionally or unconditionally exempt a covered member from the prohibition described in paragraph (a). In determining whether to grant an exemption, FINRA shall consider, among other factors:
(1) Whether the exemption is necessary or appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors and the purposes fairly intended by the policy and provisions of this Rule;
(2) Whether the covered member:
(A) Before the contribution resulting in the prohibition was made, adopted and implemented policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violations of this Rule;
(B) Prior to or at the time the contribution that resulted in such prohibition was made, had no actual knowledge of the contribution; and
(C) After learning of the contribution:
(i) Has taken all available steps to cause the contributor involved in making the contribution that resulted in such prohibition to obtain a return of the contribution; and
(ii) Has taken such other remedial or preventive measures as may be appropriate under the circumstances;
(3) Whether, at the time of the contribution, the contributor was a covered associate or otherwise an associated person of the covered member, or was seeking to become an associated person, or covered associate of the covered member;
(4) The timing and amount of the contribution that resulted in the prohibition;
(5) The nature of the election (e.g., federal, state or local); and
(6) The contributor's apparent intent or motive in making the contribution that resulted in the prohibition, as evidenced by the facts and circumstances surrounding such contribution.
(g) Definitions
For purposes of this Rule:
(1) "Contribution" means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made for:
(A) The purpose of influencing any election for federal, state or local office;
(B) Payment of debt incurred in connection with any such election; or
(C) Transition or inaugural expenses of the successful candidate for state or local office.
(2) "Covered associate" means:
(A) Any general partner, managing member or executive officer of a covered member, or other individual with a similar status or function;
(B) Any associated person of a covered member who engages in distribution or solicitation activities with a government entity for such covered member;
(C) Any associated person of a covered member who supervises, directly or indirectly, the government entity distribution or solicitation activities of a person in subparagraph (B) above; and
(D) Any political action committee controlled by a covered member or a covered associate.
(3) "Covered investment pool" means:
(A) Any investment company registered under the Investment Company Act that is an investment option of a plan or program of a government entity; or
(B) Any company that would be an investment company under Section 3(a) of the Investment Company Act but for the exclusion provided from that definition by either Section 3(c)(1), 3(c)(7) or 3(c)(11) of that Act.
(4) "Covered member" means any member except when that member is engaging in activities that would cause the member to be a municipal advisor as defined in Exchange Act Section 15B(e)(4), SEA Rule 15Ba1-1(d)(1) through (4) and other rules and regulations thereunder;
(5) "Executive officer of a covered member" means:
(A) The president;
(B) Any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division or function (such as sales, administration or finance);
(C) Any other officer of the covered member who performs a policy-making function; or
(D) Any other person who performs similar policy-making functions for the covered member.
(6) "Government entity" means any state or political subdivision of a state, including:
(A) Any agency, authority or instrumentality of the state or political subdivision;
(B) A pool of assets sponsored or established by the state or political subdivision or any agency, authority or instrumentality thereof, including but not limited to a defined benefit plan as defined in Section 414(j) of the Internal Revenue Code, or a state general fund;
(C) A plan or program of a government entity; and
(D) Officers, agents or employees of the state or political subdivision or any agency, authority or instrumentality thereof, acting in their official capacity.
(7) "Investment adviser" means any investment adviser registered (or required to be registered) with the Commission, or unregistered in reliance on the exemption available under Section 203(b)(3) of the Investment Advisers Act, or that is an exempt reporting adviser, as defined in Rule 204-4(a) of that Act.
(8) "Official" means any person (including any election committee for the person) who was, at the time of the contribution, an incumbent, candidate or successful candidate for elective office of a government entity, if the office:
(A) Is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of an investment adviser by a government entity; or
(B) Has authority to appoint any person who is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of an investment adviser by a government entity.
(9) "Payment" means any gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money or anything of value.
(10) "Plan or program of a government entity" means any participant-directed investment program or plan sponsored or established by a state or political subdivision or any agency, authority or instrumentality thereof, including but not limited to a qualified tuition plan authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, a retirement plan authorized by Section 403(b) or 457 of the Internal Revenue Code, or any similar program or plan.
(11) "Solicit" means:
(A) With respect to investment advisory services, to communicate, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of obtaining or retaining a client for, or referring a client to, an investment adviser; and
(B) With respect to a contribution or payment, to communicate, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of obtaining or arranging a contribution or payment.
Adopted by SR-FINRA-2015-056 eff. Aug. 20, 2017.

Selected Notice: 16-40

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