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New study of White House visits finds corporate lobbying pays off

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         New study of White House visits finds corporate lobbying pays off

Visiting the White House paid off for corporate titans in terms of improving their chances of winning new government contracts, securing more regulatory relief and boosting the value of a company’s stock, a new study finds.

The study, by Jeffrey Brown and Jiekun Huang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, looked at White House visitor data from 2009 through 2015 and at the top executives of S&P Composite 1,500 companies who had face-to-face meetings.

The study found 2,286 meetings between corporate executives and White House officials.

The findings included:

• Companies that contributed more to Obama’s presidential campaigns were more likely to have access to the White House.

• The “cumulative abnormal return” was 0.865% during a 51-day window surrounding a meeting. Interestingly, there wasn’t a bump for canceled visits.

• Companies with access to the Obama administration experienced significantly lower stock returns after Donald Trump’s election than otherwise similar businesses, underperforming by about 80 basis points.

• The top three most frequent visitors were Honeywell International

HON, -0.18%

Chairman and CEO David Cote, with 30 visits; General Electric

GE, -0.17%

Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, with 22 visits; and EverCore Partners

EVR, +0.81%

Executive Chairman Roger Altman, with 21 visits.

• The most-visited White House hosts of corporate executives were Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, with 107 visits; Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients, with 103 visits; and President Obama himself, with 100 visits.

This study will be impossible to replicate under Trump, since his administration has decided against making visitor logs public. Trump has met scores of corporate executives during his first 100 days in office.

As a working paper, the Brown-Huang study has not been peer reviewed.

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