Melinda (Molly) Ritchie is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests include American political institutions, U.S. Congress, bureaucratic politics, and the impact of separation of powers on policymaking. Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in Political Behavior, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and the American Journal of Political Science.
She was previously a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. Her Ph.D. is from the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and she received a B.A. in Government from Smith College in 2006. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked in Washington, DC as a legislative assistant for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
While at CSDP, Molly will be completing her book project, Back-Channel Policymaking: Congress, the Bureaucracy, and Inter-Branch Representation. The central argument is that members of Congress strategically use informal, direct communication with administrative agencies in order to influence policy, allowing legislators to circumvent constraints within the legislative process and their constituencies. The book project includes analysis of thousands of interactions between members of Congress and federal agencies using an original data set constructed with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records.