Corporate lobbying activities are designed to influence legislators, regulators and courts, presumably to encourage favorable policies and/or outcomes. In dollar terms, corporate lobbying expenditures are typically one or even two orders of magnitude larger than spending by Political Action Committees (PAC), and, unlike PAC donations, lobbying amounts are direct corporate expenditures. We use data made available by the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to examine this more pervasive form of corporate political activity. We find that, on average, lobbying is positively related to accounting and market measures of financial performance. These results are robust across a number of empirical specifications. We also report market performance evidence using a portfolio approach. We find that portfolios of firms with the highest lobbying intensities significantly outperform their benchmarks in the three years following portfolio formation.
We document that the quality of earnings reported by politically connected firms is significantly poorer than that of similar non-connected companies. Our results are not due to firms with ex-ante poor earnings quality establishing connections more often. Instead, our results suggest that, because of a lesser need to respond to market pressures to increase the quality of information, connected companies can afford disclosing lower quality accounting information. In particular, lower quality reported earnings is associated with a higher cost of debt only for the non-politically connected firms in the sample.
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