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Corporate Political Donations: Investment or Agency?

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  • Aggarwal Rajesh K.

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Meschke Felix

    (University of Kansas)

  • Wang Tracy Yue

    (University of Minnesota - Twin Cities)

Abstract

Abstract: We examine corporate donations to political candidates for federal offices in the United States from 1991 to 2004. Firms that donate have operating characteristics consistent with the existence of a free cash flow problem, and donations are negatively correlated with returns. A $10,000 increase in donations is associated with a reduction in annual excess returns of 7.4 basis points. Worse corporate governance is associated with larger donations. Even after controlling for corporate governance, donations are associated with lower returns. Donating firms engage in more acquisitions and their acquisitions have significantly lower cumulative abnormal announcement returns than non-donating firms. We find virtually no support for the hypothesis that donations represent an investment in political capital. Instead, political donations are symptomatic of agency problems within firms. Our results are particularly useful in light of the Citizens United ruling, which is likely to greatly increase the use of corporate funds for political donations.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Business and Politics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-40

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:14:y:2012:i:1:n:3

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Web page: http://www.degruyter.com

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Cited by:
  1. Robert S. Chirinko & Daniel J. Wilson, 2010. "Can Lower Tax Rates be Bought? Business Rent-Seeking and Tax Competition among U.S. States," CESifo Working Paper Series 3121, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Alexandra Niessen & Stefan Ruenzi, 2010. "Political Connectedness and Firm Performance: Evidence from Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 441-464, November.
  3. Tahoun, Ahmed, 2014. "The role of stock ownership by US members of Congress on the market for political favors," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 86-110.
  4. Juergen Huber & Michael Kirchler, 2008. "Corporate campaign contributions and abnormal stock returns after presidential elections," Working Papers 2008-18, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  5. Adam Fremeth & Brian Kelleher Richter & Brandon Schaufele, 2013. "Campaign Contributions over CEOs' Careers," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 170-88, July.

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