Do State Campaign Finance Reforms Reduce Public Corruption?

April 1, 2013   •  By Joe Trotter   •    •  

CCP Academic Advisor and Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Jeff Milyo, and Adriana Cordis, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate, released a working paper in conjunction with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which systematically examined the effects of campaign finance laws on actual corruption rates in the states. In addition to other reform measures, the report specifically evaluated the corruption convictions of state public officials in states with existing tax-financed campaign programs in its analysis of the effects of campaign finance laws.

In their draft, Cordis and Milyo assess the effects of state campaign finance reforms on both convictions and filings in cases of public corruption over the past 25 years. Ultimately, the authors found “no strong or convincing evidence that state campaign finance reforms reduce public corruption.” Earlier research from Milyo and fellow CCP Academic Advisor, David Primo, a Professor of Political Science and Business Administration at the University of Rochester, also found that state campaign finance reforms fail to increase public trust and confidence in government in any meaningful way. Taken together, this research further calls into question both the claims of “clean elections” proponents and the likely long-term effects of the implementation of a statewide taxpayer financed campaign program in this state.

You can find the working paper here.

Joe Trotter

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