Citizen and Lobbyist Access to Members of Congress: Who Gets It and Who Gives It?

Source: Josh Brodbeck, Matthew T. Harrigan, Daniel A. Smith, APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, August 2011

From the abstract:
Members of Congress grant access to outsiders as a means of alleviating policy and electoral uncertainty. But just who is granted this access, and which members are more likely to grant it? In an experiment conducted in the spring of 2010, one of the authors called the offices of each member of the Senate, first as a private citizen and then as a registered federal lobbyist, and requested a meeting with each senator to discuss a health care bill that had been in committee for some time. The lobbyist experienced a clear advantage over the citizen in securing meetings — with 27 to the citizen’s seven — and also came out in ahead in other measurable categories The experiment also offers some signs as to what sorts of Senators grant access to citizens or lobbyists, albeit with less clarity. While the results of the experiment are not entirely definitive, they do suggest that several questions about citizen and lobbyist access to Congress remain and need to be addressed with future studies.

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