Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Committee Chair

Eric N. Waltenburg,

Committee Member 1

Nadia E. Brown

Committee Member 2

James A. McCann

Committee Member 3

Christopher Witko


Donors influence state policy development through campaign contributions to legislative candidates. To curb this influence, states rely on disclosure requirements, campaign contribution limits, and public finance laws to restrain campaign contributions in elections. I argue that donors do not share the same motivations in providing campaign contributions to state legislators. For example, business interest groups seek to build long-term relationships, while ideologically leaning groups hope to elect like-minded candidates. I examine the effectiveness of campaign finance laws to regulate donations to state legislative candidates. I find that the success of campaign contribution law is dependent upon the motivations of the group providing contributions. Using data on 65,928 legislative candidates from 1999-2014, I show that disclosure requirements, contribution limits, and public finance laws have very different effects on state legislative campaign contribution patterns based on their source. These findings have important policy implications as we seek out ways to reform campaign finance regulations.