Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 346–372 | Cite as

Political importance and its relation to the federal prosecution of public corruption

  • Jamie Bologna PavlikEmail author
Original Paper


In the US, federal prosecutors are appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and have significant discretion over which cases they choose to take to court. Federal prosecutors handling an overwhelming majority of corruption cases invites the possibility of political influence in the monitoring of corruption. Additionally, political disparities across states may result in differences in corrupt behavior. Using individual case level data, I examine the effect political factors have on federal corruption cases, with an emphasis on states that are an important focus in the next presidential election. I find that corruption convictions tend to be higher in politically important states. This effect seems more significant when Democratic administrations are in power. In addition, it seems that these effects are relevant only for corruption crimes labeled as “federal”.


Corruption Corruption convictions Political bias Prosecutorial incentives 

JEL Classification

D7 D72 D73 



I would like to thank the Center for Free Enterprise at West Virginia University for making this project possible through data funding. I would also like to thank the people of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, participants in the Southern Economic Association meetings, Andrew Young, and Bryan McCannon for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural and Applied Economics, Free Market InstituteTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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