Bifurcated lobbying in America: group benefits and lobbyist selection

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4 Scopus citations


The kinds of benefits that groups seek from government predict the kinds of lobbyists they hire. Group benefits are linked to lobbyist selection for three reasons: groups attempt to maximize economic efficiency and preserve political agency, but have different levels of a priori influence with elected legislators. These motivations, which are not disentangled here, imply that private interests seeking selective benefits are more likely to hire multi-client lobbyists than public interests seeking collective benefits. I find strong support for this expectation by exploring the lobbyist hiring decisions of more than 80,000 groups. I then show that public interest groups prefer single-client agents when one controls for lobbyist pay levels, numbers of former legislators hired, and 501(c)(3) status. This last test suggests that private and public interests engage in genuinely different forms of advocacy, independent of material resources or restrictions on nonprofit lobbying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-158
Number of pages28
JournalInterest Groups and Advocacy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Interest groups
  • Lobbying
  • Public goods
  • Reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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