Friday, December 14, 2012

The Best Legislatures Republican Corporate Interests Can Buy

Lynda W. Powell. The Influence of Campaign Contributions in State Legislatures: The Effects of Institutions and Politics. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2012.

 This book challenges past scholarly research concluding that campaign contributions have “marginal” impact on state legislators’ actions. This new study finds campaign contributions have “considerable influence” instate states and much less influence in other states. The study finds that campaign contributions influences access to legislators.

Examples of industries making campaign contributions to legislators that received favorable treatment by state legislatures include subprime lenders.

Campaign contributions influence not just legislative votes bur their various actions from writing language in bills to blocking the progress of proposals This book present a model that “the more money a candidate raises, the more she accommodates donors rather than constituents in her policy decisions.” Empirical evidence supports this model. Campaign contributions influences access to legislators and a “pay to play” system often exists where lobbyists making contributions gain more time with legislators  rather than constituent interests.

The “mean influence of money” often varies little between the two chambers in the same state, although there is less influence found in the Senate in six states.

A 2007 Witko study concluded that states with more costly legislative campaigns were less likely to enact campaign finance reforms.

Campaign contributions are more important to legislators who hope to run for another office. They are less important to legislators in chambers with term limits.

Pennsylvania is a state where campaign contributions are more influential to legislators compared to most other states.

A strong legislative leadership may lead to having legislators spending more time fund raising for caucus campaign accounts.


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