Are Self-Financed House Members Free Agents?

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2008


Taylor & Francis


Self-financed members of the House of Representatives invest large sums of personal money or loans into their election campaigns because they are unable, due to their often tenuous electoral position, to attract contributions from other sources. In fact, they receive half as much interest group money on average than their peers. Their ability to self-fund as well as their limited ties to interest groups provide them with an unusual amount of independence. In this paper I investigate whether this situation results in more or less shirking on the part of self-financed members of Congress by examining the effects of self-financing on member responsiveness and ideological proximity to constituents. I find self-financed House members do not shirk constituent ideological preferences any more or less than other House members.