Tax-Exempt Lobbying: Corporate Philanthropy as a Tool for Political Influence

72 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018 Last revised: 19 Apr 2019

See all articles by Marianne Bertrand

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)

Raymond J. Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Boston University

Francesco Trebbi

Vancouver School of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

We explore the role of charitable giving as a means of political influence. For philanthropic foundations associated with large U.S. corporations, we present three different identification strategies that consistently point to the use of corporate social responsibility in ways that parallel the strategic use of Political Action Committee (PAC) spending. Our estimates imply that 16.1% of corporate charitable giving may be politically motivated, an amount 6.2 times larger than annual PAC contributions and 90% of federal lobbying. Absent of disclosure requirements, charitable giving may be a form of corporate political influence undetected by voters and directly subsidized by taxpayers.

Keywords: Special Interests, Corporate Social Responsibility, Charity, Campaign Contributions, Lobbying

JEL Classification: D72, P48, H7

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Bombardini, Matilde and Fisman, Raymond and Trebbi, Francesco, Tax-Exempt Lobbying: Corporate Philanthropy as a Tool for Political Influence (April 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095686 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095686

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)

London
United Kingdom

Matilde Bombardini

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

Raymond Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Francesco Trebbi (Contact Author)

Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

University of British Columbia
6000 Iona Dr.
Vancouver Canada, BC V6T 1L4
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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