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Walk this way, talk this way: legislator speech and lobbying

Abstract

Prior scholarship suggests that public committee hearings allow legislators to grandstand, but serve little purpose from a representation perspective. Here, I show some legislators use committee hearings to represent elite interests, and that elites take that form of representation as a credible commitment. Using a novel dataset of hearing transcripts in the 1990–2016 period, I show legislators who speak with greater similarity to interest group representatives are more likely to take jobs as lobbyists upon leaving office. Public committee hearings allow legislators to commit to the preferences of organized interests. I also show public committee hearings have not become more acrimonious, inconsistent with a pure “grandstanding” theory, nor less sophisticated over time.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Specifically, I refer to committee hearings conducted after March 19, 1979, when C-SPAN first launched with funding provided by a mutual fee sharing agreement by the major US cable networks.

  2. 2.

    Stelter, Brian. “Cruz’s 21-h Speech Fueled a Ratings Jump at C-Span2.” The New York Times, October 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/business/media/c-span2-ratings-soar-during-cruzs-marathon-speech.html?smid=fb-share.

  3. 3.

    That Web site at the time of authorship is https://www.c-span.org/.

  4. 4.

    See, for example, this article on the post-electoral life of Republican Congressperson Robert Michel, R-IL, who retired in 1995 and joined Washington, DC-based lobbying firm Hogan and Hartson. Cahn, Emily, “Life after Congress: Robert H. Michel.” CQ Roll Call March 25, 2013. http://www.rollcall.com/news/life_after_congress_robert_h_michel-223426-1.html.

  5. 5.

    ballotpedia.org.

  6. 6.

    The full list of these words is available at http://jmlr.csail.mit.edu/papers/volume5/lewis04a/a11-smart-stop-list/english.stop.

  7. 7.

    One hundred is an arbitrary quantity. The results presented here are robust to any sample size selection greater than thirty the author employed.

  8. 8.

    Specifically, the formula for the SMOG of a text corpus composed of \(n_w\) polysyllabic word prefixes and \(n_s\) sentences is \(1.043 \sqrt{\frac{30n_w}{n_s}} + 3.1291\).

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Correspondence to John Ray.

Appendices

Appendix 1: detailed group typology in committee hearing

In this table, I show the total number of individual units of speech contributed by each group in the typology used in this paper (Table 4).

Table 4 Counts of group typology membership

Appendix 2: alternate specifications of Table 1 models

Here, I demonstrate that the other speech similarity covariates, disaggregated rather than included as an overall mean similarity measure as in Table 1, are not significantly related to the dependent variable of interest (Table 5).

Table 5 Re-specified models of post-legislature lobbying by Members of Congress

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Ray, J. Walk this way, talk this way: legislator speech and lobbying. Int Groups Adv 7, 150–172 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41309-018-0033-5

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Keywords

  • Legislators
  • Lobbyists
  • Committees
  • Interest groups