Political Contributions

The SEC’s recent settlement involving a “pay-to-play” rule violation by a private equity firm is a timely reminder for fund managers, especially with the November elections approaching. 

As a refresher, Rule 206(4)-5 of the Investment Advisers Act – known as the “pay to play” rule – prohibits investment advisers from receiving compensation for providing advisory services to state and municipal entities for two years after the adviser or one of its “covered associates” makes certain political contribution to candidates for public office. Note that the SEC Enforcement Division staff periodically reviews public campaign contribution reports (which are publicly available online) to identify donations by individuals associated with investment advisers.

SECAs the elections approach nationwide, advisers to private investment funds with current or prospective state or local government entity investors should be mindful of political activities by their personnel which could raise concerns under existing pay-to-play regulations. While seemingly straightforward in application, the SEC’s pay-to-play regulations have the potential to