Published February 25, 2013
The uneasy interaction between lobbying and the financing of election campaigns was the focus of a major conference at SUNY Buffalo Law School. The conference, called "Under the Influence? Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Campaign Finance," took place at the Law School and was sponsored by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, the Law School's major interdisciplinary scholarship center.
Conference organizers were Associate Professor Michael Halberstam of SUNY Buffalo Law School and Daniel Tokaji, Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor at The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. Tokaji is co-editor of the Election Law Journal, which expects to publish articles that arise from the conference.
Professor Halberstam points out that this was the first conference to focus on the intersection between lobbying and campaign finance, a topic of increasing interest in the scholarly specialization called Law and Democracy. "There is state and federal legislation regulating lobbying and campaign finance, but this has not been looked at together systematically except by a few scholars," Halberstam says. "Now scholars are turning to looking at lobbying as a critical element of political process regulation."
For example, he says, lobbyists now can legally act as campaign finance "bundlers," hosting events through which they leverage much larger campaign contributions than they could otherwise be able to provide. "This kind of bundling goes on all the time," Halberstam says, "and it is one issue of concern – whether lobbyists should be able to act as bundlers."
The conference was also designed, he says, "for people from practice, government, academics and advocacy groups to get together and discuss these issues in a workshop setting that is really intended for us to learn from each other."
"The regulation of lobbying is a cutting edge issue in the law of elections and politics," says Professor Tokaji. "Election Law Journal is excited to have the opportunity to publish papers on lobbying and campaign finance by leading scholars from around the country."
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