Skip to main content Accessibility help

Who lobbies the lobbyists? State Medicaid bureaucrats’ engagement in the legislative process

  • Katharine W. V. Bradley (a1) and Jake Haselswerdt (a2)


Research on bureaucratic power typically focusses on rulemaking and policy implementation, while bureaucrats’ participation in the legislative process remains underexplored. We theorise and test a specific mechanism by which bureaucrats attempt to sway legislative outcomes, which we term indirect bureaucratic lobbying. Using a novel survey of state-based health lobbyists in 25 states, we show that state Medicaid agency staff routinely request lobbying assistance from provider associations and consumer advocates. We also provide the first systematic evidence of the conditions under which indirect bureaucratic lobbying is likely to occur. Our results suggest that individual-level policy agreement interacts with institutional factors, most notably agency performance and gubernatorial power, to increase the likelihood that bureaucrats will use this strategy to attempt to influence legislative deliberations.



Hide All
Aberbach, J. D., Putnam, R. D. and Rockman, B. A. (1981) Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Abney, G. and Lauth, T. P. (1986) The Politics of State and City Administration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Austen-Smith, D. and Wright, J. R. (1994) Counteractive Lobbying. American Journal of Political Science 38(1): 2544.
Balla, S. J. (1998) Administrative Procedures and Political Control of the Bureaucracy. The American Political Science Review 92(3): 663673.
Barrett, K. and Greene, R. (2008) Measuring Performance: The State Management Report Card for 2008. Governing, 23–95. (accessed 20 July 2013).
Baumgartner, F. R. and Jones, B. D. (1993) Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Baumgartner, F. R. and Jones, B. D. (2015) The Politics of Information: Problem Definition and the Course of Public Policy in America. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Beyle, T. and Ferguson, M. R. (2008) Governors and the Executive Branch. In Virginia G. and Hanson R. L. (eds.), Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis, 9th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 192228.
Biernacki, P. and Waldorf, D. (1981) Snowball Sampling: Problems and Techniques of Chain Referral Sampling. Sociological Methods & Research 10(2): 141163.
Boehmke, F. J., Gailmard, S. and Patty, J. W. (2013) Business as Usual: Interest Group Access and Representation Across Policy-Making Venues. Journal of Public Policy 33(1): 333.
Braun, C. (2012) The Captive or the Broker? Explaining Public Agency-Interest Group Interactions. Governance 25(2): 291314.
Calvert, R. L. (1985) The Value of Biased Information: A Rational Choice Model of Political Advice. Journal of Politics 47(2): 530555.
Carpenter, D. P. (2000) State Building Through Reputation Building: Policy Innovation and Coalitions of Esteem at the Post Office, 1883–1912. Studies in American Political Development 14(2): 121155.
Carpenter, D. P. (2001) The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862–1928. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Department of Justice (1989) Constraints Imposed by 18 U.S.C.§ 13 on Lobbying Efforts, September 29, (accessed 2 June 2015).
Eisner, M. A. (1993) Bureaucratic Professionalization and the Limits of the Political Control Thesis: The Case of the Federal Trade Commission. Governance 6(2): 127153.
Fenno, R. F. (1973) Congressmen in Committees. Berkeley, CA: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California.
Golden, M. M. (1998) Interest Groups in the Rule-Making Process: Who Participates? Whose Voices Get Heard? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART 8(2): 245270.
Gray, V., Lowery, D. and Benz, J. K. (2013) Interest Groups and Health Care Reform Across the United States. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Hall, R. L. and Deardorff, A. V. (2006) Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy. The American Political Science Review 100(1): 6984.
Hansen, J. M. (1991) Gaining Access: Congress and the Farm Lobby, 1919-1981 . Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Heclo, H. (1978) Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment. In Anthony K. (ed.), The New American Political System. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 87124.
Hojnacki, M. and Kimball, D. C. (1998) Organized Interests and the Decision of Whom to Lobby in Congress. The American Political Science Review 92(4): 775790.
Hojnacki, M. and Kimball, D. C. (1999) The Who and How of Organizations’ Lobbying Strategies in Committee. The Journal of Politics 61(4): 9991024.
Huber, J. D. and Shipan, C. R. (2002) Deliberate Discretion: The Institutional Foundations of Bureaucratic Autonomy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Kalton, G. and Anderson, D. W. (1986) Sampling Rare Populations. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (General) 149(1): 6582.
Kingdon, J. W. (1984) Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.
Kousser, T. and Phillips, J. H. (2012) The Power of American Governors: Winning on Budgets and Losing on Policy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Krause, G. A. (1996) The Institutional Dynamics of Policy Administration: Bureaucratic Influence Over Securities Regulation. American Journal of Political Science 40(4): 10831121.
Krause, G. A. (2003) Agency Risk Propensities Involving the Demand for Bureaucratic Discretion. In Krause G. A. and Kenneth J. M. (eds.), Politics, Policy, and Organizations: Frontiers in the Scientific Study of Bureaucracy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 4172.
Krause, G. A. (2010) Legislative Delegation of Authority to Bureaucratic Agencies. In Durant R. F. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 521544.
Krupnikov, Y. and Shipan, C. (2012) Measuring Gubernatorial Budgetary Power: A New Approach. State Politics & Policy Quarterly 12(4): 438455.
Lowi, T. J. (1979) The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States. New York: Norton.
McCool, D. (1990) Subgovernments as Determinants of Political Viability. Political Science Quarterly 105(2): 269293.
McKay, A. M. (2011) The Decision to Lobby Bureaucrats. Public Choice 147(1): 123138.
Miller, E. A. (2006) Bureaucratic Policy Making on Trial: Medicaid Nursing Facility Reimbursement, 1988–1998. Medical Care Research and Review 63(2): 189216.
National Association of State Budget Officers (2014) State Expenditure Report: Examining Fiscal 2012–2014 State Spending, (accessed 1 June 2015).
Nicholson-Crotty, J. and Miller, S. M. (2012) Bureaucratic Effectiveness and Influence in the Legislature. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 22(2): 347371.
Niskanen, W. A. Jr. (1971) Bureaucracy and Representative Government. Chicago, IL: Aldine, Atherton.
Peters, B. G. (1981) The Problem of Bureaucratic Government. The Journal of Politics 43(1): 5682.
Prater, W. (2016) Setting Party Identification Aside: A Look at Medicaid Expansion in States With Republican Governors. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Political Science Association, April 9, 2016, Chicago, IL.
Randall, D. J. (2012) The Politics of Medicaid Contracting and Privatization, PhD Dissertation, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.
Rieselbach, L. N. (1995) Congressional Politics: The Evolving Legislative System, 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Sabatier, P. A. (1988) An Advocacy Coalition Framework of Policy Change and the Role of Policy-Oriented Learning Therein. Policy Sciences 21(2/3): 129168.
Sabatier, P. A. and Jenkins-Smith, H. C. (eds.) (1993) Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Squire, P. (2007) Measuring State Legislative Professionalism: The Squire Index Revisited. State Politics & Policy Quarterly 7(2): 211227.
Truman, D. B. (1951) The Governmental Process. New York, NY: Knopf.
Wilson, J. Q. ([1989] 2000) Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Woods, N. D. (2009) Promoting Participation? An Examination of Rulemaking Notification and Access Procedures. Public Administration Review 69(3): 518530.
Workman, S. (2015) The Dynamics of Bureaucracy in the U.S. Government: How Congress and Federal Agencies Process Information and Solve Problems. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Wright, J. R. (1996) Interest Groups and Congress: Lobbying, Contributions, and Influence. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Yackee, J. W. and Yackee, S. W. (2006) A Bias Towards Business? Assessing Interest Group Influence on the U.S. Bureaucracy. The Journal of Politics 68(1): 128139.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Bradley and Haselswerdt supplementary material

 Word (668 KB)
668 KB

Who lobbies the lobbyists? State Medicaid bureaucrats’ engagement in the legislative process

  • Katharine W. V. Bradley (a1) and Jake Haselswerdt (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed