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Unformatted text preview: American Political Science Review Vol. 100, No. 1 February 2006 Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy RICHARD L. HALL ALAN V. DEARDORFF University of Michigan P rofessional lobbyists are among the most experienced, knowledgeable, and strategic actors one can find in the everyday practice of politics. Nonetheless, their behavioral patterns often appear anomalous when viewed in the light of existing theories. We revisit these anomalies in search of an alternative theory. We model lobbying not as exchange (vote buying) or persuasion (informative signaling) but as a form of legislative subsidya matching grant of policy information, political intelli- gence, and legislative labor to the enterprises of strategically selected legislators. The proximate political objective of this strategy is not to change legislators minds but to assist natural allies in achieving their own, coincident objectives. The theory is simple in form, realistic in its principal assumptions, and counterintuitive in its main implications. Empirically, the model renders otherwise anomalous regularities comprehensible and predictable. In a later section, we briefly bring preferences back in, examining the important but relatively uncommon conditions under which preference-centered lobbying should occur. S tudents of democratic institutions have long wor- ried about the reach of private interests into pub- lic affairs. Private sector inequalities often get capturedinthepracticeofinterestgrouppolitics,giving risetowhatGrantMcConnell(1966,25)oncecalledthe most serious and perplexing problems of American democracy. There may exist an accessibility to a share in power for almost any coherent and determined group, McConnell observed, but some groups have used their opportunity with much greater effectiveness than others, for some, indeed, have been unable to seize the opportunity at all (25). One of the most important ways in which groups seize their opportunities is through lobbying elected representatives. Early in the twentieth century, McConnell found, professional lobbyists operated very much in the shadows. By centurys end, however, their numbers had grown so rapidly that their ubiquity guar- anteed visibility. Lobbying disclosure laws have only thrown a brighter light on the range and magnitude of lobbying at the federal level (Baumgartner and Leech 1999).Interestgroupstodayspendoverabilliondollars a year lobbying Congress, more than they spend in PAC contributions and independent expenditures to con- gressional campaigns combined. But how much ac- cessibility to power do they get, to whom, under what conditions? What impact do lobbyists ultimately have on the behavior of legislators once access is gained?...
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- Spring '09