Tax-Exempt Lobbying: Corporate Philanthropy as a Tool for Political Influence
72 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018 Last revised: 10 Dec 2021
Date Written: April 2019
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: Suggested Citation