Clayton Peoples, a lab fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, specializes in campaign finance and corruption, a subject that most investigative reporters love. He’s done important work looking at actual data linking campaign contributors’ influence over legislation — the kind of influence that many people intuitively believe exists, but an influence that has also suffered from a lack of empirical, fact-based documentation.
Take a look at Peoples’ latest blog post, “What Can $6 Billion Buy?” where he concludes: “It is not especially surprising that an analysis of all the bills over an extended period reveals consistent contributor influence. As a lawmaker interviewed by Schram in his 1995 book Speaking Freely put it, “(People) will often look for…the grand-slam example of influence of these interests. But rarely will you find it. But you can find a million singles…regulatory change, banking committee legislation, (etc.)…” Scholars have been looking for the “grand slam”; they should have been looking at all the “singles.”