ON BUYING LEGISLATURES*
Economics and Politics, 1991, vol. 3, issue 2, 93-109
This paper analyzes a simple spatial voting model that includes lobbyists who are able to buy votes on bills to change the status quo. The key results are: (i) if lobbyists can discriminate across legislators when buying votes, then they will pay the largest bribes to legislators who are slightly opposed to the proposed change, rather than to legislators who strongly support or strongly oppose the change; (ii) equilibrium policies exist, and with quadratic preferences these equilibria always lie between the average of the lobbyists' ideal points and the median of the legislators' ideal points; and (iii) “moderate” lobbyists, whose positions on a policy issue are close to the median of the legislators' ideal points, will prefer the issue to be salient, while more extreme lobbyists will generally prefer the issue to be obscure.
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