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Bribes and Fruit Baskets: What Does the Link Between PAC Contributions and Lobbying Mean?

  • Jeffrey Milyo (a1)


When I was a boy, my family would occasionally receive tall baskets filled with fruits, nuts and jams, most often around the holidays. These gifts from business acquaintances of my father were not meant to be inducements for him to break the law; rather, they were little niceties intended to maintain ongoing relationships. Today, when my wife and I are invited to dinner, we usually bring flowers or a bottle of wine as a gift. This is not some crass attempt on our part to ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained during meal preparation; it is only a symbol of our appreciation for the kindness of our hosts. Not for a moment do I believe that we would be ostracized should we go to dinner engagements empty-handed, nor would my father have punished nongivers. As such, these gift exchanges can be seen as epiphenomena: they symbolize underlying relationships, but they do not constitute relationships.


Corresponding author

1 Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail:


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Ansolabehere, Steven, Snyder, James M., and Tripathi, Micky. 2002. “Are PAC Contributions and Lobbying Linked? New Evidence from the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act,Business and Politics 4 (2): 135155.
Bennedsen, Morten and Feldmann, Sven E. 2002. “Informational Lobbying and Political Contributions.” Mimeo. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
de Figueiredo, John M. and Silverman, Brian S. 2002. “Academic earmarks and the Returns to Lobbying.” Working Paper #9010. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Milyo, Jeffrey, Primo, David and Groseclsoe, Timothy. 2000. “Corporate PAC Campaign Contributions in Perspective.” Business and Politics 2 (1): 7588.


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