Avenues of Influence: On the Political Expenditures of Corporations and Their Directors and Executives
44 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2013 Last revised: 15 Sep 2015
Date Written: July 10, 2015
The vast literature on corporate political influence has primarily focused on expenditures made by corporations and their PACs but has largely ignored the political activities of the individuals who lead these firms. In order to understand the role of corporate elites in political advocacy, I introduce a new database of campaign contributions made by corporate directors and executives of Fortune 500 firms. Donating to political campaigns is nearly universal among corporate elites. When compared to corporate PACs, corporate elites are more ideological, more willing to support non-incumbents, and less likely to target powerful legislators. The results also reveal substantial heterogeneity in the political preferences of directors both across and within firms. In addition to challenging widely held beliefs about the political leanings of corporate elites, the prevalence of bi-partisan boardrooms has important implications for how the preferences of key decision-makers within a firms shape its political activities.
Keywords: corporate political strategies, campaign contributions, lobbying, political ideology
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