Will a $2,700 Mistake Cost BlackRock $37MM?
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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Will a $2,700 Mistake Cost BlackRock $37MM?

A $2,700 mistake in January 2016 could end up costing BlackRock $37 million. The moral of the story may be: asset managers that do work for state or local governments should keep their executives' dollars out of politics, even national politics.

Bloomberg and Reuters both dig into the story.

Last year Mark Wiedman, senior managing director and global head of
iShares and index investments at BlackRock, went to a fundraiser for then-presidential-candidate John Kasich. Yet Wiedman didn't realize that, as a member of BlackRock's executive committee, he was running afoul of a 2010 SEC rule to curb pay-for-play situations. The rule prevents an asset manager and certain executives there from making any political donations to a state or local political official whose government entity the asset manager does work for. If they do donate, then they can't accept pay from that governmental client for two years.

In this case, Kasich is governor of Ohio, so BlackRock could be forced to forgo about $37 million in money management fees from the state of Ohio. In May BlackRock did file for an exemption from the rule, and a company spokeswoman notes that Wiedman's donation "was made solely in support of Mr. Kasich's presidential campaign and for no other purpose." And Wiedman even got a refund from Kasich's campaign.

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