(NEW YORK) — With many Americans already dubious that Congress is looking out for their best interests, a couple of grad students wanted to know who lawmakers were more apt to meet with on Capitol Hill: constituents or donors.
Joshua Kalla at Yale University and David Broockman at University of California, Berkeley, with the help of the activist organization CREDO, sent 191 identical letters to various House members from the same party about sponsoring a bill banning chemicals, with the only difference being that some mentioned they were constituents while the rest identified themselves as donors.
What they discovered was money talks. The contributors had far greater access to House members, their chief of staff or senior staffer than the constituents.
The purpose of the experiment was also to debunk a theory espoused by the Supreme Court that lawmakers are not influenced by money that does not go directly to their own campaigns. The five conservative justices of the high court made that argument when they ruled in favor of allowing corporations to make unlimited campaign donations.
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Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN