Shadow Lobbyists

51 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2020

See all articles by Rocco d'Este

Rocco d'Este

University of Sussex, Department of Economics

Mirko Draca

University of Warwick

Christian Fons-Rosen

University of California, Merced

Date Written: October 23, 2020


Special interest influence via lobbying is increasingly controversial and legislative efforts to deal with this issue have centered on the principle of transparency. In this paper we evaluate the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework provided by the US Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Specifically, we study the role of ex-Congressional officials who join US lobbying firms in positions that could be related to lobbying activity but without officially registering as lobbyists themselves. We find that firm lobbying revenues increase significantly when these potential ‘shadow lobbyists’ join, with effects in the range of 10-20%. This shadow lobbyist revenue effect is comparable to the effect of a registered lobbyist at the median of the industry skill distribution. As such, it is challenging to reconcile the measured shadow lobbyist effect with the 20% working time threshold for registering as a lobbyist. Based on our estimates, the contribution of unregistered ex-Congressional officials could explain 4.9% of the increase in sectoral revenues, compared to 24.0% for the group of registered officials.

Keywords: Lobbying, Revolving Door, Political Money

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

d'Este, Rocco and Draca, Mirko and Fons-Rosen, Christian, Shadow Lobbyists (October 23, 2020). Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series No. 139 , Available at SSRN:

Rocco D'Este (Contact Author)

University of Sussex, Department of Economics ( email )

Sussex House
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Mirko Draca

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Christian Fons-Rosen

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

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