Precisely how do private companies benefit from access to federal officials? Surprisingly, beyond anecdotal stories, it has been difficult to know; there had been no irrefutable data on how firms’ access to the White House translates into private gains—until now.
In the first study of its kind, we used the Obama administration’s White House visitor logs from 2009–2015 to identify 2,286 meetings between federal government officials and corporate executives from S&P 1500 firms. We found that money can buy you greater access to the White House, and that for corporations, that access translated into big returns on Wall Street.
Our findings also underlined a simple fact: Without transparency from the Obama administration, we would have never known any of this. And lacking that transparency from the Trump administration, the American people will be left in the dark while many insiders profit from their White House meetings.