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Do State Campaign Finance Reforms Reduce Public Corruption?

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Abstract

The Supreme Court has long held that campaign finance regulations are permissible for the purpose of preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption. Yet the implied hypothesis that campaign finance reforms are effective tools for combating public corruption has gone essentially untested. We conduct the first systematic evaluation of the effects of campaign finance laws on actual corruption rates in the states. We examine the effects of state reforms on both convictions and filings in public corruption cases over the last 25 years; overall, we find no strong or convincing evidence that state campaign finance reforms reduce public corruption. Earlier research that employs similar methods also finds little support for the contention that state campaign finance regulations increase public trust and confidence in government. Together, these results call into question the legal rationale for campaign finance regulations.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Milyo & Adriana Cordis, 2013. "Do State Campaign Finance Reforms Reduce Public Corruption?," Working Papers 1301, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:1301
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    File URL: https://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2013/wp1301_milyo.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey Milyo, 2013. "Campaign Spending and Electoral Competition: Towards More Policy Relevant Research," Working Papers 1344, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    2. Cordis, Adriana S. & Warren, Patrick L., 2014. "Sunshine as disinfectant: The effect of state Freedom of Information Act laws on public corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 18-36.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public corruption; campaign finance; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General

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