Two grad students -- Joshua Kalla at Yale University and David Broockman at University of California, Berkeley -- worked with activist organization CREDO to conduct the study by sending meeting requests to 191 members of Congress. The letters were all identical, aside from the portion randomly identifying the citizen requesting the meeting as either a donor or constituent.
The study found requests from donors were significantly more likely to lead to meetings with policymakers. Requests from constituents were significantly more likely to be ignored, rejected, or deflected to a low-level aide.
Lamenting the logic behind the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling -- a decision that allows corporations to make unlimited campaign contributions -- Political Director of CREDO Becky Bond said, “So this study is so exciting because it's the first scientifically based evidence that we've seen that there is a real link between campaign donations and federal policy.”
Echoing Bond’s concern about the role of money in politics, Kalla said. "All the member of Congress knows is that they're donors. These people are granted special access. So that really flies in the face of the ruling and the reasoning behind Citizens United."