LaPira's research focuses on American political institutions, with a focus on Congress, interest groups, and lobbying. Overarching themes in LaPira's writings include how the government contributes to inequality in interest representation in the private sector and the institutional capacity of Congress and its staff to govern. LaPira is the principal investigator of the 2017 Congressional Capacity Survey, is a member of the American Political Science Association's Organized Section on Public Policy's council, and is a member of the editorial board for the journal Interest Groups & Advocacy.
In the News
Discusses how the new Homeland Security policy regime promised to streamline security and disaster policy across multiple jurisdictions and to minimize the influence of entrenched special interests. Shows that the opposite occurs, with entrenched interests simply shifting their attention to follow the new governing structure and with a whole new set of corporate interests emerging to seek new government contracts, expand existing programs, and capture the new agency and oversight committees.
Reveals how vast inequality is within the interest group system, with an increasingly persistent top tier of 100 organizations that spends roughly a third of all lobbying expenditures, hires a third of all lobbyists, and shows remarkable breadth of issue interest. May help resolve an apparent conflict between prior findings that the highest-spending interest groups usually get what they want, but no particular resource advantage or advocacy tactic consistently buys policy outcomes.
Shows that the Lobbying Disclosure Act is deeply flawed, riddled with loopholes, and very poorly enforced. Shows that the result is a lobbying regime that is effectively ungoverned, allowing well-heeled interests to undermine the public's interest to know who, when, and why special interests influence government.
Revises the notion that lobbyists are inherently and institutionally corrupt. Draws a complex and sobering picture of the revolving door as a consequence of the eroding capacity of government to solve the public's problems.
Offers a new theory of government demand for interest group mobilization. Shows that short term shifts in government attention to selected policy areas causes groups to follow suit, suggesting that theories of group mobilization need to account for special interest demand by government itself, not simply how groups resolve supply-side collective action problems.
Shows lobbying regulations are becoming increasingly obsolete, and that there is a growing divide between transparency laws and the marketplace for policy advocacy. Suggests the unequal concentration of corporate influence is much greater than it may appear to the public.