A wide variety of both specific and general rules prohibit the making of political contributions in exchange for government business. See “Four Pay to Play Traps for Hedge Fund Managers, and How to Avoid Them
” (Feb. 5, 2015). In the hedge fund space, pay to play schemes often involve making political contributions to secure investment allocations from public pensions or other public funds. Rule 206(4)-5 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 was adopted to prevent precisely such misconduct by investment advisers. See “The SEC’s Pay to Play Rule Is Here to Stay: Tips for Hedge Fund Managers to Avoid Liability
” (Oct. 8, 2015). Pay to play charges can also be brought under the general antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC recently charged State Street Bank and Trust (SSBT), along with a senior executive and others, with violating the antifraud provisions of the securities laws in connection with a scheme to win lucrative pension business from the State of Ohio by allegedly funneling cash to the Ohio Deputy Treasurer and campaign contributions to the Ohio State Treasurer. This article summarizes the alleged pay to play scheme and the outcomes of the SEC enforcement actions, as well as the SEC’s determination on SSBT’s parent’s no-action request for confirmation that it would not be deemed an “ineligible issuer” under Rule 405 of the Securities Act of 1933 by reason of the enforcement action.