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Corporate Political Donations: Investment or Agency?

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Aggarwal Rajesh K. & Meschke Felix & Wang Tracy Yue, 2012. "Corporate Political Donations: Investment or Agency?," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-40, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:14:y:2012:i:1:n:3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Chansog (Francis) & Pantzalis, Christos & Chul Park, Jung, 2012. "Political geography and stock returns: The value and risk implications of proximity to political power," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 196-228.
    2. Rajwani, Tazeeb & Liedong, Tahiru Azaaviele, 2015. "Political activity and firm performance within nonmarket research: A review and international comparative assessment," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 273-283.
    3. 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 170-188, July.
    4. Unsal, Omer & Hassan, M. Kabir & Zirek, Duygu, 2016. "Corporate lobbying, CEO political ideology and firm performance," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 126-149.
    5. Duchin, Ran & Sosyura, Denis, 2012. "The politics of government investment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 24-48.
    6. Elmar A. Janssen, 2014. "Do Election Results Affect the Value of Politically Connected Firms? - The Effect of the Schroeder-Merkel Change of Government on German Prime Standard Firms," Working Papers Dissertations 05, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    7. repec:eee:corfin:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:411-441 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. McIntosh Craig & Allen Jacob, 2009. "Using the Error in Pre-Election Polls to Test for the Presence of Pork," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-37, March.
    9. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:2:p:220-255 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Gul, Ferdinand A. & Munir, Sa'adiah & Zhang, Liang, 2016. "Ethnicity, politics and firm performance: Evidence from Malaysia," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 115-129.
    11. Jürgen Huber & Michael Kirchler, 2013. "Corporate campaign contributions and abnormal stock returns after presidential elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 285-307, July.
    12. 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.
    13. Omer Unsal & M. Kabir Hassan & William J. Hippler, 2016. "Lobbying in Finance Industry: Evidence from US Banking System," NFI Working Papers 2017-WP-03, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
    14. Yi Lu & Greg Shailer & Mark Wilson, 2016. "Corporate Political Donations: Influences from Directors’ Networks," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 461-481, May.
    15. Ahmed Tahoun & Florin P. Vasvari, 2016. "Political Lending," Working Papers Series 47, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    16. Thomas Stratmann, J.W. Verret, . "How Does Corporate Political Activity Allowed by Citizens United v. FEC Affect Shareholder Wealth?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(3).
    17. Janssen, W.H.P., 2015. "Essays in financial reporting, tax, and politics," Other publications TiSEM 4d9fd983-7774-43d8-9a74-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    18. Chirinko, Robert S. & Wilsom, Daniel J., 2010. "Can Lower Tax Rates Be Bought? Business Rent-Seeking and Tax Competition Among U.S. States," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 63(4), pages 967-993, December.
    19. repec:eee:corfin:v:49:y:2018:i:c:p:54-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Ovtchinnikov, Alexei V. & Pantaleoni, Eva, 2012. "Individual political contributions and firm performance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 367-392.
    21. Elvira Sojli & Wing Wah Tham, 2017. "Foreign political connections," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 48(2), pages 244-266, February.
    22. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:12:p:2424-2443 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Kim, Incheol & Pantzalis, Christos & Park, Jung Chul, 2013. "Corporate boards' political ideology diversity and firm performance," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 223-240.

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