Working papers

Capital on Capitol Hill [Link]

Abstract: Do legislators' investments predict their behavior? Legislators' stockholdings reveal their personal preferences. These preferences might make some legislators more receptive to firm lobbying. Lobbying potentially informs legislators how policy impacts the firms in which they invest, activating incentives that influence legislative votes. Analyzing votes on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and leveraging the Senate's two-member districts to address partisan and geographic concerns, this study finds that members of Congress with trade-oriented portfolios support PTAs more. An interquartile shift in senators' informed financial self-interest—a measure of the lobbying activity of and the effect of trade on firms that legislators own—increases the predicted probability of supporting a PTA by 11.3 percentage points, nearly half the impact of party. This article posits a novel channel by which money affects politics, extending prevailing theories of trade support and casting new light on lobbying.

Friends in High Places [Link]

Abstract: I argue that legislators' sympathies, as revealed by their investments, affect firm lobbying. Firms, maximizing profits, lobby when the expected payoffs outweigh the costs. If legislators sympathize with a firm, the chances of successful lobbying increase. This leads to the central implication of my argument; firms owned by (more) legislators are more likely to lobby. I test my argument on trade-related lobbying of Congress by US public firms. Firms owned by at least one legislator become more than twice as likely to lobby. Given legislator ownership, the effect increases when more legislators own the firm and when their investments grow. The effect appears chamber-specific and stronger when majority-party legislators own the firm. Extant theories see lobbying as a quid pro quo or conveyance of information that helps legislators win reelection. My work suggests another, mutually inclusive possibility---the information lobbying conveys matters because it relates to legislators' portfolio-revealed personal preferences. 

Pocketbook Voting in Congress [Link]

Abstract: Who---if anyone---gets represented in Congress? Some assert affluent donors are best represented. Others contend that legislators respond more to constituents when elections impend. I argue that legislators' *personal preferences* can lead to shirking. Their investments reveal these preferences. Analyzing roll call votes on free trade agreements (FTAs) shows that members of Congress who invest in firms that gain from FTAs support FTAs more. This effect decreases with electoral pressure, made clear by the quasi-exogenous timing of the Senate's staggered elections. I show geographic and partisan considerations do not explain these results by leveraging the two-member districts of the Senate. An interquartile shift in senators' financial self-interest—a measure of how trade benefits firms in senators' portfolios—increases the predicted probability of supporting an FTA by 11 percentage points, roughly one-third the effect of switching parties. My findings suggest that legislators' personal preferences may complicate the seemingly clear relationship between affluent donors and legislation.

Vox Populism: Analysis of the Anti-Elite Content of Presidential Candidates’ Speeches

Legislators’ Support of Immigration: Shirking Hard or Hardly Shirking?