“Disclosure, Credibility, and Speech”

Michael Gilbert has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Journal of Law and Politics), which I had the pleasure of hearing him present a few days ago at the U Va. conference on Disclosure, Anonymity and the First Amendment.  Here is the abstract:

Conventional wisdom, embraced by judges and scholars alike, holds that mandatory disclosure chills political speech. That must be right for some actors. Disclosure imposes costs on speech, and that will lead some speakers on the cost-benefit margin to remain silent. However, the conventional wisdom may be wrong at the aggregate level. If you raise the price of a lottery ticket and increase the odds of winning, you might sell more tickets. By the same logic, if disclosure raises the price of speech and also reveals – or induces – better odds of getting a favorable outcome, speakers might engage in more speech. Disclosure might reveal or induce those better odds by uncovering information about politicians’ credibility. I explain why and consider legal implications.

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