Transparency of the lobbying process is hailed as an effective means to limit the influence of special interests, but should transparency also apply to the information obtained by policy makers? This paper extends theories of informational lobbying by explicitly modeling the choice of policy makers to obtain information ahead of interactions with lobbyists. This approach reveals a new channel for the value of confidentiality: extracting evidence from special interest groups. Confidential information benefits policy makers even in the absence of reputational concerns, and even if that information is very limited, but creates a trade-off between obtaining information internally and extracting it from lobbyists. As the policy maker's expertise and ideological alignment with special interests increase, this trade-off becomes too restrictive and confidential information becomes less valuable. These results shed light on the relationship between confidentiality, quality of governance, and influence.
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