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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 8, 2014

Disclosing Disclosure: Lessons from a “Failed” Field Experiment

Dick M. Carpenter, David M. Primo, Pavel Tendetnik and Sandy Ho
From the journal The Forum


In a recent issue of The Forum, Fortier and Malbin call for more research into the effects of disclosure requirements for campaign finance. In this paper, we report the results of a field experiment designed to assess whether such rules dissuade potential contributors due to privacy concerns. The paper is unique in that we explain why the field experiment never happened, and what we can learn from its “failure.” Specifically, we show that 2012 Congressional candidates were fearful about letting potential contributors know that their donations would be made available on the Internet, along with their address, employer, and other personal information. In trying to learn directly about whether contributors would be spooked by this knowledge, we ended up learning indirectly, through the actions of candidates, that privacy concerns may in fact limit participation in the political process, including among small donors.

Corresponding author: David M. Primo: Department of Political Science and Simon Business School, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA, e-mail:


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Published Online: 2014-8-8
Published in Print: 2014-7-1

©2014 by De Gruyter

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