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39 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 655 (2020-2021)
"Masters of War"? The Defense Industry, the Appearance of Corruption, and the Future of Campaign Finance

handle is hein.journals/yalpr39 and id is 687 raw text is: YALE LAW & POLICY REVIEW
Masters of War?
The Defense Industry, the Appearance of Corruption,
and the Future of Campaign Finance
Nathan Leys*
Under modern Supreme Court precedent, campaign finance regulations
can only be justified by the need to prevent quid pro quo corruption or its
appearance. To develop a new generation of campaign finance reforms that
are both effective and judicially survivable, reformists need to answer a key
question: does money cause, or follow, voting behavior? Using a unique
dataset, this Note develops a novel methodology to untangle this endogeneity
problem and uncover the influence of the defense industry on congressional
The results are striking: the percentage of campaign contributions
originating from the defense industry has a statistically significant effect on
voting behavior. This effect is visible even after controlling for a legislator's
baseline favorability toward the defense industry, party/ideology, and the
importance of the defense sector to a representative's district economy. A fifty-
percentage-point increase in the proportion of contributions originating from
the defense industry is associated with a one-standard-deviation increase in a
legislator's favorability toward the industry. What's more, from the 2002 to
2014 election cycles, the defense industry quintupled their average
contributions; over that same time frame, the proportion of campaign
contributions tied to the defense industry roughly tripled.
I argue that these findings and methodology lay an evidentiary
foundation for a new generation of campaign finance regulations based on
*    Yale Law School, J.D. 2020. The author thanks Simon Brewer, Ian Hopkins,
Sarah Levine, Francesca Procaccini, David Schleicher, the brilliant staff at the
Campaign Legal Center, the members of the Yale Law & Policy Review, and
countless others for their helpful suggestions, guidance, and comments on this
Note. In addition, the Center for Responsive Politics deserves the public's
gratitude for their work documenting and collating campaign finance data. All
mistakes are my own.


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