Sweetheart Index: Study Analyzes The Ties Between Federal Contracts, Political Donations

Oct 4, 2018

A study co-authored by a Ball State University researcher has created an index to analyze how likely it is corporations that make political donations receive federal contracts. It’s called the “sweetheart index.”

Ball State University professor Reza Houston says, each year, taxpayers help fund numerous deals the government makes with corporations.

“The federal government pays out hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts every year,” Houston says.

He says the connection between political action committee contributions and the likelihood the corporations behind them receive federal contracts had been anecdotal until this study.

“It really is our first academic evidence of a relationship between political contributions or political connections and the quality of government contracts being received by these firms,” Houston says.

The study also goes one step further: it shows businesses that are political donors not only are more likely to be awarded contracts, but also benefit from conditions that are changed to be profitable for the company.