Disclosure, Credibility, and Speech

14 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2011 Last revised: 19 Nov 2012

See all articles by Michael D. Gilbert

Michael D. Gilbert

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: October 29, 2011


Conventional wisdom, embraced by judges and scholars alike, holds that mandatory disclosure chills political speech. That must be right for some actors. Disclosure imposes costs on speech, and that will lead some speakers on the cost-benefit margin to remain silent. However, the conventional wisdom may be wrong at the aggregate level. If you raise the price of a lottery ticket and increase the odds of winning, you might sell more tickets. By the same logic, if disclosure raises the price of speech and also reveals – or induces – better odds of getting a favorable outcome, speakers might engage in more speech. Disclosure might reveal or induce those better odds by uncovering information about politicians’ credibility. I explain why and consider legal implications.

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Michael, Disclosure, Credibility, and Speech (October 29, 2011). Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 27, p. 627, 2012, Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2012-01, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1951917 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1951917

Michael Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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