Honors College

Madtalk: Draining the Swamp? How "Lobbying Bans" Actually Make Corruption Worse

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Location: Madison Union 402

A talk by Dr. Timothy LaPira, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science.

Based on his forthcoming book, Revolving Door Lobbying: Public Service, Private Influence, and the Unequal Representation of Interests (University Press of Kansas, June 2017), JMU political scientist Dr. Timothy M. LaPira will discuss how efforts to reform lobbying to reduce corruption in Washington backfire. His research shows how imposing prohibitions on lobbying by former elected officeholders and government employees simply drives them underground. LaPira will discuss how broader forces inside the government — increased partisan polarization and the decline in the government’s ability to solve problems — has dramatically increased demand for lobbyists who know how things really work. The organized interests who hire these lobbyists are not seeking unseemly or corrupt access to those in power. They simply want to know what to expect next from the increasingly unpredictable and dysfunctional government. This demand does not go away when lobbying prohibitions become more strict. Instead, former politicians and officials become “shadow lobbyists” who do the same thing, but out of the public eye. LaPira’s research suggest that our democracy would be better off improving lobbying transparency than ineffectively draining the swamp.

LaPira bookTim LaPira earned his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University in 2008. He has also worked as a legislative assistant to a member of Congress and as a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, where he was responsible for creating the Lobbying and Revolving Door databases on OpenSecrets.org. LaPira's academic expertise is generally on American politics, and specifically on Congress, interest groups, lobbying, and the so-called revolving door between government and Washington's "influence industry."

MADtalks are hosted by the Madison Honors Leadership Council, the student organization for the JMU Honors College. MADtalks are open to the entire JMU community.

This talk is also sponsored by the JMU Department of Political Science.

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