Improper Influence

Campaign Finance Law, Political Interest Groups, and the Problem of Equality
Thomas Gais
Presents an original argument regarding the role of money in national politics


Why is there still so much dissatisfaction with the role of special interest groups in financing American election campaigns, even though no aspect of interest group politics has been so thoroughly regulated and constrained? This book argues that part of the answer lies in the laws themselves, which prevent many hard-to-organize citizen groups from forming effective political action committees (PACs), while actually helping business groups organize PACs.

Thomas L. Gais points out that many laws that regulate group involvement in elections ignore the real difficulties of political mobilization, and he concludes that PACs and the campaign finance laws reflect a fundamental discrepancy between grassroots ideals and the ways in which broadly based groups actually get organized.

Thomas L. Gais is Senior Fellow, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State University of New York.

Praise / Awards

  • "It is rare to find a book that affords a truly fresh perspective on the role of special interest groups in the financing of U.S. elections. It is also uncommon to find a theoretically rigorous essay confronting a topic usually grounded in empirical terms. Thomas Gais's recent work, Improper Influence, scores high on both counts and deserves close attention from students of collective action, campaign finance law, and the U.S. political process more generally. . . . [T]his book is worth careful attention because it is intuitive, carefully constructed, and once again highlights the limits of progressive-minded reforms."
    American Political Science Review
  • "Gais's theoretical discussion, and empirical analysis to back it up, are of fundamental scholarly and practical importance. The implications for 'reform' are controversial, flatly contradicting other recent reform proposals . . . but Gais's case is clear and well-argued. I fully expect that Improper Influence will be one of the most significant books on campaign finance to be published in the 1990s."
    —Michael C. Munger, Public Choice

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 280pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1998
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08582-8

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

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