The “bootleggers and Baptists” public choice theory of regulation explains how durable regulatory bargains can arise from the tacit collaboration of a public-interest-minded interest group (the “Baptists”) with an economic interest (the “bootleggers”). Using the history of tobacco regulation, this Article extends the bootleggers and Baptists theory of regulation to incorporate the role of policy entrepreneurs like the state attorneys general and private trial lawyers who joined forces to regulate tobacco by litigation. We denominate these actors “televangelists” and demonstrate that they play a pernicious role in regulation.

The Article begins by showing how tobacco regulation through the 1980s fit the traditional bootleggers and Baptists public choice model. It then explores the circumstances that made it possible for the emergence of the televangelists as a regulatory partner that the bootleggers would prefer. The Article then criticizes televangelist-bootlegger bargains as likely to result in substantial wealth transfers from large, unorganized groups to the coalition partners. It also shows how televangelist-bootlegger coalitions are more pernicious than bootlegger-Baptist coalitions. Finally, it concludes with suggestions for how to make televangelist-bootlegger coalitions less durable.


Law and Economics

Date of this Version

August 2007