Peter Overby

As NPR's correspondent covering campaign finance and lobbying, Peter Overby totes around a business card that reads Power, Money & Influence Correspondent. Some of his lobbyist sources call it the best job title in Washington.

Overby was awarded an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia silver baton for his coverage of the 2000 campaign and the 2001 Senate vote to tighten the rules on campaign finance. The citation said his reporting "set the bar" for the beat.

In 2008, he teamed up with the Center for Investigative Reporting on the Secret Money Project, an extended multimedia investigation of outside-money groups in federal elections.

Joining with NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook in 2009, Overby helped to produce Dollar Politics, a multimedia examination of the ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, as Congress considered the health-care overhaul bill. The series went on to win the annual award for excellence in Washington-based reporting given by the Radio and Television Correspondents Association.

Because life is about more than politics, even in Washington, Overby has veered off his beat long enough to do a few other stories, including an appreciation of R&B star Jackie Wilson and a look back at an 1887 shooting in the Capitol, when an angry journalist fatally wounded a congressman-turned-lobbyist.

Before coming to NPR in 1994, Overby was senior editor at Common Cause Magazine, where he shared a 1992 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for magazine writing. His work has appeared in publications ranging from the Congressional Quarterly Guide to Congress and Los Angeles Times to the Utne Reader and Reader's Digest (including the large-print edition).

Overby is a Washington-area native and lives in Northern Virginia with his family.

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1:35am

Mon May 21, 2012
Election 2012

Secret Donors Still Find Ways To Remain Anonymous

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 10:00 am

The latest deadline for the presidential candidates and the major superPACs to disclose their finances was Sunday night. The public and the media can find out who has been giving to the candidates, and how that money was spent. But there's a lot of political spending that isn't being reported.

Outside money groups are spending millions of dollars, and the donors remain anonymous. Two recent court rulings could force those groups to file public disclosures, but there already seems to be a way around that.

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3:48am

Fri May 18, 2012
Election 2012

Donation Gap Narrows Between Obama, Romney

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 3:49 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's talk about the money the campaigns themselves raise. All through the Republican primaries, President Obama's campaign raised far more money than Mitt Romney's campaign. But now the money gap is narrowing, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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4:58am

Wed May 16, 2012
Law

Appeals Court Moves Toward Identifying Donors

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 5:47 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. So that's the budget money. Let's talk about political contributions. The laws governing political money have just become a little bit more convoluted. But this time, the new twist could actually mean more disclosure. We'd find out the names of the big donors who finance attack ads.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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4:14pm

Thu May 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Do Campaign Ads Seem More Negative This Year? It's Not Just You

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:43 am

If you thought the presidential primaries were extraordinarily negative, now there's statistical evidence that you were right.

A new analysis of TV ads finds that 70 percent of the messages were negative — a trend spearheaded by the heavily financed superPACs supporting the candidates. At this point in the 2008 election, 91 percent of TV ads were positive.

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2:05am

Thu May 3, 2012
Presidential Race

Gingrich Out Of The Race, But Still In Debt

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 10:42 am

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pauses while announcing that he is suspending his presidential campaign Wednesday in Arlington, Va.
Evan Vucci AP

Newt Gingrich is officially out of the presidential race. The former House speaker said Wednesday that he's suspending his campaign, and he's ready to help the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, battle President Obama. But Gingrich might have a more pressing problem: His campaign has about $4 million in debt.

In Gingrich's exit speech, he opened by thanking people — first his family, then his financial backers.

"I also want to single out, first of all, the over 179,000 donors who helped us at Newt.org and who helped make the campaign possible," he said.

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2:32am

Mon April 30, 2012
Election 2012

Romney's Big-Dollar 'Bundlers' Stay Anonymous

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 9:07 am

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters in Aston, Pa., on April 23.
Jessica Kourkounis Getty Images

Every presidential nominee going back to 2000 has revealed the names of influential supporters known as "bundlers" because of the way they persuade others to give money to a candidate. Every nominee, that is, until Mitt Romney.

The most anyone can give directly to any presidential campaign is $5,000, and everyone who gives that much is listed in the Romney campaign's monthly disclosures.

When it comes to the bundlers, though, the campaign chooses to keep those names secret.

Voluntary Disclosure

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4:20pm

Tue April 24, 2012
It's All Politics

As The Campaign Hits Cruising Altitude, Critics Again Target Presidential Travel

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 4:37 pm

President Obama boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, en route to Florida, on April 10. Whenever a president runs for re-election, his travel tends to become a political issue.
Cliff Owen AP

The White House has been fielding questions lately about President Obama's travel — what's official, what's political and whether taxpayers are getting stuck with the bill. It's the same issue that rolls around every time a president runs for re-election.

Take President Obama's trip to Florida earlier this month. It featured an official presidential speech on the economy at Florida Atlantic University. On the same trip, the president hit two fundraisers.

How do you sort that out?

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5:25am

Mon April 23, 2012
Politics

Charity Status Of Conservative Group Challenged

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 5:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Opponents have intensified a campaign against a group that drafts and promotes bills for state lawmakers to enact. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, says it stands for limited government, free markets and federalism. The corporate-funded group has promoted much debated ideas - from voter ID rules to stand your ground gun laws.

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3:43pm

Fri April 20, 2012
It's All Politics

Presidential Fundraising Numbers Poised To Skyrocket

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 4:11 pm

The latest financial numbers are coming out Friday from the campaigns of President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — along with the superPACs that love them.

First, the easy numbers: $53 million was raised in March to re-elect Obama and $12.6 million was raised by the Romney campaign to win the Republican primaries.

But those easy numbers don't give a complete picture.

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3:42pm

Thu April 19, 2012
Politics

Conservative Group Criticized For Tax-Exempt Status

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 5:34 pm

Yum Brands, the company that owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, says it's the latest corporation to break ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council — a group that brings state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists together to write legislation.

Liberal groups are pressuring corporations to abandon ALEC, and a dozen companies have now dropped out.

This week, ALEC did some damage control. It said it is shutting down its task force on public safety and elections, which wrote controversial measures on voter ID, "stand your ground" and immigration reform.

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2:31am

Thu April 5, 2012
Governing

Boycotts Hitting Group Behind 'Stand Your Ground'

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:37 am

Selina Gray of Sanford, Fla., shows her sign at a rally protesting the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teen shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Authorities have cited the state's "stand your ground" law as a reason charges have not been filed in Martin's death.
Julie Fletcher AP

Two of America's best-known companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have dropped their memberships in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a low-profile conservative organization behind the national proliferation of "stand your ground" gun laws.

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3:00am

Tue March 27, 2012
Around the Nation

Koch Brothers Move To Control Cato Institute

Libertarians say it's like watching dear friends in an ugly divorce, as the billionaire Koch brothers try to take control of the highly regarded Cato Institute. The head of Cato says the Kochs are out to politicize the think tank.

3:44am

Wed March 21, 2012
Money & Politics

Romney, SuperPAC Outspend Rivals Combined

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 9:23 am

As Mitt Romney decisively won the Illinois Republican presidential primary Tuesday night, financial reports filed at the Federal Election Commission showed that Romney and a superPAC supporting him yet again spent more than all of his GOP opponents combined.

The reports cover the month of February, which started with Romney's win in Nevada and ended with contests in Michigan and Arizona, which the former Massachusetts governor also won.

In between, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took three smaller states.

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2:41am

Tue March 20, 2012
Election 2012

For A Personal Cause, Casino Owner Bets On Gingrich

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 8:05 am

Sheldon Adelson speaks at the 2008 "Facing Tomorrow" Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.
David Silverman Getty Images

One of the defining elements of the 2012 presidential campaign is money. Not that the candidates themselves have raised all that much; except for President Obama, they haven't. But two dozen wealthy Americans have put in at least $1 million each.

Mostly, they're a mix of Wall Street financiers and entrepreneurs. One of the biggest donors is Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate who is worth about $25 billion.

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11:01pm

Mon March 12, 2012
Money & Politics

Low-Profile SuperPAC Targets Powerful Incumbents

The superPAC Campaign for Primary Accountability is taking aim at Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus and other congressional incumbents.
YouTube

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