On November 14-15, the Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective hosted a conference on Lobbying and Campaign Finance. The conference brought together academics, practitioners, and lawyers to understand the impact of money in politics on a variety of outcomes, including special interest capture, democratic distortion, and inequality. The conference provided a rare opportunity to combine discussions of potential political reforms with evaluation of recent empirical findings in the area of lobbying and campaign finance. Participants covered a range of topics, including lobbying in Congress and in executive agencies; the relationship between patterns of campaign finance and partisan polarization; campaign finance laws, political parties, and special interest influence; and the regulation of lobbying and political money in other advanced democracies. The conference report summarizes the reform ideas that emerged from the conference discussions, including increasing soft money to political parties, disclosure of dark money, limiting lobbying access through the revolving door, and increasing the capacity of government.
The conference was held at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a donor to the Program on American Democracy.