Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1748024
 
 

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Is it Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process


Marianne Bertrand


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Matilde Bombardini


University of British Columbia (UBC)

Francesco Trebbi


University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

January 25, 2011


Abstract:     
What do lobbyists do? Some believe that lobbyists’ main role is to provide issue-specific information and expertise to congressmen to help guide the law-making process. Others believe that lobbyists mainly provide the firms and other special interests they represent with access to politicians in their “circle of influence” and that this access is the be-all and end-all of how lobbyists affect the lawmaking process. This paper combines a descriptive analysis with more targeted testing to get inside the black box of the lobbying process and inform our understanding of the relative importance of these two views of lobbying.

We exploit multiple sources of data covering the period 1999 to 2008, including: federal lobbying registration from the Senate Office of Public Records, Federal Election Commission reports, committee and subcommittee assignments for the 106th to 110th Congresses, and background information on individual lobbyists.

A pure issue expertise view of lobbying does not fit the data well. Instead, maintaining connections to politicians appears central to what lobbyists do. In particular, we find that whom lobbyists are connected to (through political campaign donations) directly affects what they work on. More importantly, lobbyists appear to systematically switch issues as the politicians they were previously connected to switch committee assignments, hence following people they know rather than sticking to issues. We also find evidence that lobbyists that have issue expertise earn a premium, but we uncover that such a premium for lobbyists that have connections to many politicians and Members of Congress is considerably larger.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 64

Keywords: Lobbying, Special Interest Politics, Political Access, Expertise, Advocacy

JEL Classification: D72, P48, H7

working papers series


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Date posted: January 26, 2011 ; Last revised: March 22, 2011

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Bombardini, Matilde and Trebbi, Francesco, Is it Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process (January 25, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1748024 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1748024

Contact Information

Marianne Bertrand
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-5943 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/marianne.bertrand/vita/cv_0604.pdf
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0341 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Matilde Bombardini
University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )
2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada
Francesco Trebbi (Contact Author)
University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )
997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
HOME PAGE: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ftrebbi/
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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