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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

’50 Shades of Green’ Study Claims Corruption in Politics

On May 2, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Thomas Ferguson, professor of Political Science, published a study called “50 Shades of Green,” which shows how money has been used in the past to buy votes in Congress.

The study, published by the Roosevelt Institute, acknowledges that social scientists and journalists have struggled for a long time to draw a clear connection between money and corruption in politics. The study reveals the particular way that money has contributed to and influenced congressional votes on “finance and telecommunication issues.”

The study, led by Ferguson, was also conducted by Assistant Professor of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Paul Jorgensen, and UMass Boston’s University Statistician Jie Chien.

This isn’t the first time that the Roosevelt Institute has released research to analyze the direct correlation between money and corruption. Research published earlier this month by Ferguson and his teammates stated that the research is building on “two earlier studies.” One of those two studies, called “Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance,” researched the relationship between the “staggering costs on the US economy” and the country’s “deregulated, out-of-control finance.” The second study, titled “Overcharged and Underserved,” researched how the US telecommunication market impacts “economic growth.”

Ferguson and his teammates’ most recent study analyzed how political finance can secure “privileged positions of both high finance and big telecom.” According to the study’s summary statement, the researchers wanted to acknowledge that past studies have “underestimated the flow of money into Congress.”

To conduct the study, Ferguson and his teammates needed to test the influence of money on congressional votes in the past. For data collection, the team analyzed the Democrats of the US House of Representatives who changed their mind and decided to vote against the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill. Using five votes from 2013-2015, the study found a link between donations and “pro-bank votes.”

Boston Magazine, which recently covered the story, stated that according to the study conducted, “[f]or every $100,000 that House Democrats received from the financial sector, the odds that they would vote against Dodd-Frank regulations increased by 13.9 percent.”

When the the donation given was between $200,000 and $300,000, the chances that they would vote against the bill dramatically increased to 25-40 percent. The researchers also found that representatives who left the House at the end of 2014 behaved differently, and were much more likely to “side with the banks.”

In addition to these findings, the study found that Congress was more likely to side with banks by nine percent. Despite which party the representative belong to, the study stated that money made “a substantial difference on both sides.”

But in terms of neutrality, the study found that representatives who were receiving money from politically neutral firms and companies like Google and Netflix were more likely to support the reform bill, while conservative representatives were more likely to vote against neutrality.
The study summarized, “Americans may not have the ‘best Congress money can buy,’ but there is no point in pretending that what appears to be the voice of the people is really often the sound of money talking.”