Organized interests and political extortion: A test of the Fetcher Bill hypothesis

David Lowery, Virginia Gray, Matthew Fellowes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives. Although the Fetcher Bill Hypothesis, which is that legislators introduce bills in order to extort campaign contributions from organized interests, has been given new prominence by suggestions that it can provide a general explanation of the composition of legislative agendas and the structure of interest communities, tests of the hypothesis are narrow, rare, and indirect. We provide an alternative test to more directly assesses its core implications. Methods. We test the hypothesis using single-year and pooled-regression analyses of 1995, 1997, and 1999 data on lobby registrations by organized interests in the American states - a venue providing substantial variation in legislative activity, the density of lobbying organizations, and the campaign finance systems that are presumed to drive rent seeking. Results. The tests provide little evidence diat policy agendas induce lobby registrations. Conclusions. These results indicate that the Fetcher Bill Hypothesis cannot provide a sufficient account of the composition of either legislative agendas or lobbying communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-385
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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