Schatzinger, Henrik Martin
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What motivates organized interests to contribute money to federal legislators subsequent to elections? Previous research with its focus on the potential impact of campaign contributions on roll-call votes would lead us to believe that Political Action Committees (PACs), as the fundraising arm of interest groups, are particularly motivated by floor votes in the House of Representatives. However, empirical evidence for influence at the roll-call stage is weak. The present study challenges the idea that groups are motivated by roll-call votes, includes various committee events as well as other political events in the analysis, and points at the strategically timed solicitations on the part of legislators. Several theoretical reasons lead me to believe that PACs are more likely to contribute to legislators in temporal proximity to committee events: 1. Committees are small and therefore PACs need fewer resources to encourage favorable participation compared to the floor, 2. It is easier to attach amendments in committee, 3. Committee events allow members to promote interests that aid them in reelection, 4. Committee decision-making is less formal and the public pays less attention to decisions, and 5. Groups should have a vested interest in committee decision-making since most bills die in committee. To test if the timing of events, committee membership, and the link between the two matters for PACs, I analyze the contributions of three industries with a specific emphasis on non-election years. Several results of the time-series cross-sectional analyses are consistent across all three industries. First, PACs contribute more to those legislators who serve on committees with jurisdiction over the respective groups. Second, in connection with committee membership and leadership positions, committee events are a much better predictor for the timing of contributions than floor events. Finally, as for committee events, we are more likely to see an increase in contributions in the week in which an event takes place and less likely to see spikes in the two weeks before or two after that. The findings suggest that scholars interested in group influence should pay increased attention to legislative behavior at committee hearings and markups.