Access to Proposers and Influence in Legislatures
Access is an important prerequisite for outside influence. I study a model in which targeted access provides interest groups with chances to lobby policy proposals by certain politicians. I show how this prominent form of access can have subtle consequences in equilibrium: by changing the prospects for future lobbying, it can influence today’s votes and, in turn, other proposals and lobbying expenditures. The magnitude of these effects varies with polarization and their direction depends on the interest group’s extremism relative to its target. They can work in the group’s favor or against it, potentially even overwhelming the direct benefit of more lobbying opportunities. For example, moderate groups crave access to relatively extreme politicians but avoid access to a range of more centrist politicians. The results build our theoretical understanding of access and have implications for various political expenditures.