The SEC’s pay-to-play rule has given advisers reason to worry about potential foot faults since its adoption. As we have noted in prior posts, the rule is filled with landmines and is therefore difficult to navigate. As was evident from the SEC’s announcement of a series of settlements of alleged pay-to-play violations in early 2017, even a small contribution without any intent to influence an election or an official can run afoul of the rule and put two years of fees and carry at risk.
Last week, the SEC issued an order that will expand the scope of the pay-to-play rule. The SEC approved a FINRA proposal to extend the self-regulatory organization’s Rules 2030 and 4580 (its pay-to-play and associated recordkeeping rules) to a recently established category of FINRA-registered firms known as capital acquisition brokers, or CABs.