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The Contingent Value of Relationships: The Supply and Demand for Revolving-Door Lobbyists

James Strickland

In seeking representation, organized interest groups are faced with a variety of lobbyist types to choose from. "Revolving door" lobbyists, or individuals who transition from governmental positions into lobbying for private entities, are one such type. Revolving-door lobbyists thrive on the value of their relationships. The value of a revolver's services is contingent on the continued presence of friends within the government and the proportion of their friends' influence over policy. As legislatures experience greater turnover, relationships between lobbyists and incumbents get disrupted. When there are increases in membership size, the proportional influence of individual lawmakers is diminished. While there are more former legislators available to lobby when legislatures have high turnover or large chamber sizes, fewer of them enter into lobbying as the value of their relationships with incumbents decreases. When adjusting for this curvilinear effect of legislator supply, demand for lobbying services helps to govern numbers of revolving-door lobbyists. Other factors, such as revolving-door laws or the presence of legislative staff, have little or no effect on rates of revolving. Interests and institutions are found to interact in ways that substantively affect political representation, and some institutional reforms might help to level the playing field for interests with fewer material resources.
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When and Where

Map Haven Hall - Room 5769

March 2018

3:30pm - 5:00pm

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