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POL 115 A (Galisanka - Spring 2024): Money in Politics Paper

This guide is for students doing research on money in politics for POL115A.

Background Sources

Before getting started with research, it is a good idea to start with some background and context to the issues you are investigating. The sources below will help you get to that information quickly.

Multi-Book Background Databases

Scholarly Journal Articles

These databases (listed in the order of likelihood they will be useful to you) will get you to news and scholarly journal articles on particular companies, industries, and issues. You can search for things like "Oil industry" Lobbying to get to articles. 

Policy Analysis and Web Sources

Policy analysis organizations will differ depending on your topic, but here are some places to start.

Public Policy Think Tanks

The Harvard Kennedy School keeps a list of US and Non-US Think Tanks and provides a custom Google search across them all. This is a great place to go to find Think Tank content. 

General Think Tanks
Policy-Specific Think Tanks

Resources on Lobbying

The direct influence between lobbying and policy is often difficult to prove - but a good deal of evidence is available in what the lobbying groups reveal about their activities and in how the legislation gets crafted. It is important to look at both sides of the process, starting with the lobbying group or organization. You can check their web sites for statements about the policies they are working on - The American Library Associations Legislation Page for example. Then you can check the hearings and legislation versions in Proquest Congressional for changes recommended by the lobbying groups, etc.

For information on where lobbying money goes - try these resources:

Campaign Financing Resources

Researching campaigns can be challenging. Different rules regulate required disclosures on local, state and federal levels. The following web resources are all freely available.

Executive Branch Reporting 

Congressional Office Reporting

External Sites that Monitor Money and Lobbying

Federal Level Finance and Budget Research

Use the following freely available resources to research how the federal government is spending money, including budget-allocations and contracts with 3rd parties.

State Level Finance and Budget research

Use these freely available resources to research how the government is spending money on the local or state levels. Local research is challenging, as each state has its own web sites, rules, and systems for sharing this type of information.

Each State Government will have their own webpage for spending. For example, here is  North Carolina's Open Budget website. 

Tracking Corporations

There are many ways to track corporations' spending, relationships, and lobbying efforts, but the information tends to be buried or otherwise hard to find. Typically, if information is not required to be disclosed by a regulating body like the SEC in the US, it will be even harder and sometimes impossible to find. Here are some resources and strategies to use.

Lobbying and Government Involvement

  • There are various ways corporations can attempt to influence government policies. 
  • Most resources that capture business information about companies don't focus on lobbying efforts, so you're more likely to find out about a company's involvement by focusing on a specific policy or introduced bill and tracking backwards to see who is behind it.
  • Keep in mind that individual companies may lobby for certain interests, but they may also be part of other organizations that do that work such as industry associations or non-profits created explicitly for that purpose, so it may be a multi-step process to track back to the company.

Corporate Relationships

  • The company's 10-K and other filings and statements
    • While the amount of information included in the 10-K can vary, companies will sometimes mention key corporate partners, such as suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors as challenges or risks with those business operations can affect the company's perceived value to investors.
    • Companies typically disclose key executives in the proxy statement issued ahead of the annual shareholder meeting. You may also be able to find it on the company's "Investor Relations" website.
    • Groups, like pension and mutual funds and investment firms, that own a large amount of equities have to file the 13F form with the SEC that details their holdings. When this information is aggregated you can see who the institutional owners are for various equities like stocks.
    • Deals and transactions, like mergers and acquisitions, will also result in SEC filings and are tracked by many company databases. Companies will also often release press statements when deals are announced.

Comparative Cross-National Data

State Development

Regime Type/Regime Change

Democratic and Authoritarian Institutions

Global Elections Results