To Give Is to Get: The Promotional Role of Investment Bankers in Local Bond Elections

Todd L. Ely, Thad D. Calabrese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public managers and elected officials are generally restricted from supporting election campaigns with public resources. In the case of legislative referenda, the public stakeholders responsible for putting a policy question on the ballot must play a neutral role when acting in their official capacity. A system where private money supports public goals has emerged as regulatory provisions simultaneously restrict direct private giving to elected officials and public support for election campaigns. Using campaign finance disclosures, election results, and municipal bond issuance data, we find that post-election fees paid to firms making political contributions are significantly higher than for non-contributors. The finding improves the understanding of how private dollars support public policy outcomes, raises questions about the circumvention of laws restricting the use of public resources in election campaigns, and informs ongoing consideration of the need for additional regulatory action and disclosure requirements to address issue committee campaign contributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-524
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015


  • campaign finance
  • direct democracy
  • municipal bonds
  • pay-to-play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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