Money in Politics: Self-Enrichment, Campaign Spending, and Golden Parachutes

Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Available in Hardback, Paperback, and e-book from CUP, Amazon, or Bookshop.

In politics, money is often the name of the game. Politicians enrich themselves while in office, spend campaign money to finance their re-election, and accept lucrative "golden parachute" jobs after leaving office. Money in Politics argues that these different forms of capital are part of a common system and should be analyzed in a single framework. The book advances a comparative theory that shows how self-enrichment, campaign spending, and golden parachute jobs are connected to each other. This theory explains when and how money enters politics, ultimately illuminating that a change in one form affects the other types and revealing the consequences this has for democracy. The book uses a wide range of evidence from countries around the world, including causally identified quantitative studies, qualitative cross-national comparisons, and original survey experiments. Enlightening and instructive, this book shows that we can only fully comprehend the role of money in politics when we view it as a common system to be analyzed and critiqued.


Choice: "An excellent book for collections on campaigns, elections, election law, and democratic theory."

Political Science Quarterly: "'Money in Politics' is ambitious, brilliant, and timely, and I expect it to change how we understand, research, and teach money in politics."

Political Studies Review: "It is hard to think of a better book on money in politics and easy to think this one will inspire interdisciplinary research and more effective political reforms for many years."


"This book offers what is likely the broadest conceptual and empirical attempt to 'follow the money' in politics. We all know that money speaks loudly in politics – but Weschle shows how it does so in rather different ways and with distinct consequences, both for politicians and their careers as well as for how voters perceive the political process. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in campaign finance and the influence of moneyed interests in politics."
David Samuels, University of Minnesota

"This book provides a unified theory of how money enters politics, how different types of money in politics – campaign funds, self-enrichment, golden parachute jobs – form part of the same system, and what consequences all of that has on democracy. The analyses are cutting-edge, rigorous, and thoughtful. Weschle makes a novel and valuable contribution to the literature on political economy – I expect this book to be widely read."
Margit Tavits, Washington University in St. Louis

"This book is a major achievement. Recent empirical research on money in politics has moved beyond the conventional focus on campaign finance in US federal elections to encompass other types of money and other settings. Weschle provides a simple theoretical framework that helps make sense of this somewhat fragmentary literature; he also presents new findings that further illuminate the factors that shape how money enters into politics in Brazil, India, the US, and elsewhere. 'Money in Politics' convincingly makes the case that researchers, reformers, and policymakers would all benefit from thinking of seemingly distinct aspects of money in politics as parts of an interrelated system."
Andrew Eggers, University of Chicago