Influence without Bribes: A Non-Contracting Model of Campaign Giving and Policymaking

42 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009  

Justin Fox

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Lawrence S. Rothenberg

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 29, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: interest groups, campaign finance, political agency

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Fox, Justin and Rothenberg, Lawrence S., Influence without Bribes: A Non-Contracting Model of Campaign Giving and Policymaking (April 29, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1396976 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1396976

Justin Fox (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.wustl.edu/justinfox

Lawrence S. Rothenberg

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States
585-273-4903 (Phone)

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