We present a transfer-seeking model of political economy in which the size of the transfer is determined endogenously, and in which over-dissipation of rents is predicted even under conditions of risk-neutrality and perfect rationality. We implement an empirical test of this model by collecting behavioral data in a laboratory experiment. We confirm the existence of behavior that leads to over-dissipation of rents in games with both symmetric and asymmetric political power. We also confirm the hypotheses that lowering the political power of one player can lead to smaller rent-seeking expenditures and to larger transfers. We observe behavior that deviates from dominant strategies.