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Private interest groups and their role in Washington - Essay Example

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Private interest groups and their role in Washington

Each law or amendment has a bunch of monetary transactions behind it. While a conventional market place sells commodities and services, the Congress sells legislative favors. It is a pitiable condition, but nevertheless true.
Numerous empirical studies have been conducted on understanding the nature of influence of interest groups. As far as studies on interest groups’ ability to influence legislative voting, the results are mixed. It is fairly clear that cultural issues such as gay rights, abortion, school prayer, etc have minimal interference from interest groups. The reason is obvious – they have no overt commercial bearing. For general socio-cultural topics
“legislative voting is driven by partisanship, ideology, religious beliefs, and constituency opinion, with interest group influence occurring at the margins. Interest group influence on culture war issues is conditional, but may be more visible simply because support has been relatively low.” (Haider-Markel, 1999)
Amid the generic fear over the influence of interest groups, a particular concern has risen over the notion that Political Action Committees (PACs) are buying the allegiance of politicians. The flow of money into PAC’s reveals a blatant misuse of campaign financing. For example, the PAC leadership has been found to allow special interests and big business to sway key decisions. One can garner this from an analysis of receipts and expenditure incurred by PACs in the last decade. The spirit behind limits to campaign donation is to pre-empt any undue pressure from large donors. But this regulation is easily circumvented “by giving to a members personal campaign fund and to his or her leadership PAC”. (Public Citizens Congress Watch, 2004) So, legal loopholes such as these have effectively made election campaigns sophisticated quid-pro-quo affairs. To cite an example, during the 1991-92 Congressional elections, the maximum personal campaign fund cap ...Show more
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Summary

What effect does the timing and targeting of money have on their effectiveness? How exactly might we go about measuring such influence, in both contributions and results?
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Private interest groups and their role in Washington
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