Corporate Influence on US Legislative, Regulatory and Judicial Decision Making

Author: Martin Bailey

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 5 Nov 2018.

Bailey, Martin, 2015 Corporate Influence on US Legislative, Regulatory and Judicial Decision Making, Flinders University, School of History and International Relations

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Abstract

The question I have often been asked, and indeed, have asked myself and of others; how can all this damn money in the US electoral system not be considered corruption? Professor Malcolm Feely summed it up by answering; “…well it is not illegal because it is influence, not corruption. If one person did it, it could be corruption, but because everyone does it, it is normal”. This led to the development of the question that this thesis attempts to address. “How does the corporate sector influence US legislative, regulatory and judicial decision making?” I have found contemporary discourse to be isolated in silos. Cross disciplinary analyses falls outside of the comfort zone for the majority of scholars. Yet all that happens does not happen in a vacuum; there are always linkages if one is willing to look and attempt to understand. This leads into one of many aspects contained in this thesis; that of understanding influence as a theory. Based on this understanding, the conceptualization of the 21st century corporate sector has contributed to an understanding that contemporary models do not apply. From this I have developed a theory that better describes the corporation and the corporate person; the framework for Corporate Interest Group Theory. The evolution of corporate personhood, culminating in Citizens United, has been juxtaposed with the development of legislation in Congress and SEC regulations, which distinguishes corporate speech while extinguishing the speech of natural persons. Money is speech is influence, is defined by this thesis as a continuum; a continuum that interacts seamlessly with the concept of transactional corporate speech. Corporate speech takes on various forms, with political speech, commercial speech and the transactional nature of certain forms of speech being areas which the Court has yet to reconcile. Speech is also money; a concept that has been acknowledged by the Court. Fundamentally, corporate speech is made by spending money to buy power, to buy influence, be it increased sales and/or beneficial relationships. This continuum is the key to understanding how the corporate sector influences decision making at all levels including legislative, regulatory and judicial decision making. Acknowledging that the corporate sector does not utilize one method of influence promotes an understanding how the corporate sector sponsors beneficial outcomes. This is a long term game where a corporate funded education sector continues to play an integral role in developing the underlying ideology and understanding of the legislative, regulatory and judicial leaders. Key to the concerns of a significant majority of US natural persons today is what is perceived as the corrupting influence of moneyed corporations; the ownership of the peoples government by the broader corporate sector in defiance of the US Constitution.

Keywords: political money, influence, reciprocal altruism, reciprocity, corporation, Constitution, Citizens United, corporate speech, Congress, SEC, FEC, Supreme Court, legislation, regulation, transactional speech, corporate personhood, natural persons, United States, US, FIRE sector, campaign finance, continuum,
Subject: History thesis, International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: School of History and International Relations
Supervisor: Prof Martin Griffiths