The appearance and the reality of quid pro quo corruption: An empirical investigation

Christopher Robertson, D. Alex Winkelman, Kelly Bergstrand, Darren Modzelewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Supreme Court says that campaign finance regulations are unconstitutional unless they target "quid pro quo" corruption or its appearance. To test those appearances, we fielded two studies. First, in a highly realistic simulation, three grand juries deliberated on charges that a campaign spender bribed a Congressperson. Second, 1271 representative online respondents considered whether to convict, with five variables manipulated randomly. In both studies, jurors found quid pro quo corruption for behaviors they believed to be common. This research suggests that Supreme Court decisions were wrongly decided, and that Congress and the states have greater authority to regulate campaign finance. Prosecutions for bribery raise serious problems for the First Amendment, due process, and separation of powers. Safe harbors may be a solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-438
Number of pages64
JournalJournal of Legal Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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