About Professor Malbin
Michael J. Malbin has been a Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany since 1990, having arrived after spending seventeen years in Washington as a reporter, think tank scholar and government appointee (in both the legislative and executive branches). His teaching has emphasized legislative politics and elections. He also established the college's Semester in Washington program in 1997 and taught it through 2015. For this he was awarded both the Citizen of the University Award from the University's Alumni Association and a Distinguished Service to the College Award from Rockefeller College.
One consistent thread to his research interests has been on the dynamics of institutional change and reform. To some extent, that interest grew serendipitously: he had the professional good luck to land in Washington, with new Ph.D. in hand (Cornell, 1973), just as the Watergate hearings were being played out on Capitol Hill. As a result, his earlier publications focused on congressional reform, presidential nomination reform and congressional staffing – along with what became his abiding interest in the role of money in politics.
Since 1999, he has been able to indulge this last interest in his role as co-founder and executive director of The Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan research institution in Washington D.C. Some of his recent work on federal, state (and occasionally local) elections has been about participation by small donors and about political party networks and interest groups in an era of unlimited independent spending.
His books include three that examine how laws labeled as reforms work out in practice. These include (1) The Election after Reform: Money, Politics and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (editor and co-author, 2005), (2) Life after Reform: When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Meets Politics (editor and co-author, 2003) and (3) The Day after Reform: Sobering Campaign Finance Lessons from the American States (co-authored by Thomas L. Gais, 1998). He is also co-author with Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann of the award-winning biennial book, Vital Statistics on Congress.
From 1990-97, Malbin was director of the Center for Legislative Studies at SUNY's Rockefeller Institute, where he was the principal investigator for Presidential-Congressional Relations for a collaborative, multi-university project that successfully created a much used congressional history database. That project was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Malbin's positions in Washington during the years before Albany were as a reporter for National Journal, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Associate Director of the (U.S.) House Republican Conference and Speechwriter to the Secretary of Defense.
Since coming to Albany, he has concurrently been a presidential appointee to the National Humanities Council, guest scholar at The Brookings Institution, and a visiting Professor at Yale. He also founded and serves as co-chair of The Campaign Finance Research Group – an affiliated group sponsoring panels at the annual APSA convention – and serves on a number of professional advisory and editorial boards.