Campaign Finance Transparency Affects Legislators’ Election Outcomes and Behavior

65 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018 Last revised: 18 Jul 2019

See all articles by Abby K. Wood

Abby K. Wood

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Christian R. Grose

University of Southern California

Date Written: July 16, 2019

Abstract

Do audits by executive agencies impact the behavior of those audited? Does revealing negative information about legislators affect electoral results and behavior? Institutions that encourage transparency, such as campaign finance disclosure, influence mass and elite behavior. We theorize that greater transparency provides information to voters during legislative campaigns about the character of candidates, and this information affects voter and legislator behavior. The U.S. Federal Election Commission conducted random audits of 10 percent of U.S. House members in the 1970s. This FEC program is the only randomized experiment a U.S. agency has conducted on federal legislators and their electorates. We find that legislators with audits yielding campaign finance violations did poorly in the subsequent election relative to the control group. Audited nonsouthern legislators had reduced general election margins; and audited southern legislators faced more primary competition. Audited incumbents whose audits revealed violations were more likely to resign.

Suggested Citation

Wood, Abby K. and Grose, Christian R., Campaign Finance Transparency Affects Legislators’ Election Outcomes and Behavior (July 16, 2019). USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS18-23; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 18-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3236939 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3236939

Abby K. Wood (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://weblaw.usc.edu/contact/contactInfo.cfm?detailID=71046

Christian R. Grose

University of Southern California ( email )

Von KleinSmid Center, 327
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.christiangrose.com

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