Influence without Bribes: A Non-Contracting Model of Campaign Giving and Policymaking
Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Political Science
Lawrence S. Rothenberg
University of Rochester - Department of Political Science
April 29, 2009
Efforts to find empirical evidence that campaign money impacts policymaking choices have offered scant support for group influence. A possible explanation is that the hypothesis that those receiving campaign monies should adjust their policy choices to favor their donor requires the untenable assumption that groups and legislators can implement contracts. We develop a new, alternative, model in which a policymaking legislator cannot make contracts but cares about policy, fundraising, and reputation. In our model, the group gives only to those it believes shares it policy preferences. Nonetheless, we show that the group's giving impacts incumbent policy choices. Importantly, when groups ideologically match, the relationship between actual contributions and bias is not straightforward. As long as a group is uncertain about a member's primitive policy preference, it can influence her policymaking even when it contributes to her challenger or abstains from giving altogether. A key implication of our model is that empirical work requires a different research design to discern if money biases policymaking.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: interest groups, campaign finance, political agency
JEL Classification: D72
Date posted: April 30, 2009
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