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.

Pages

5:37pm

Tue February 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Supreme Court Takes Case That Could Puncture A Key Campaign Cash Limit

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 6:48 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to campaign-finance laws that could open the door to further money in politics beyond what Citizens United achieved.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

Read more

4:39pm

Mon February 18, 2013
It's All Politics

How New Jersey's High-Flying Sen. Menendez Ran Into Turbulence

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:12 pm

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, shown in June, has come under scrutiny before, but has never been charged.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

These should be good times for Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.

New Jersey voters re-elected him last fall in a landslide, and he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a few weeks ago. But along the way, Menendez has come under scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee and perhaps other government investigators — and certainly the media — for his connections to a longtime friend and generous campaign donor.

Read more

3:33am

Fri February 8, 2013
It's All Politics

Even Without Earmarks, Tax Breaks And Special Deals Fill Bills

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 12:28 pm

Tourists take photographs in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 2, the day after Congress passed a bill to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Congress likes to say it no longer does earmarks, the provisions that direct federal dollars to serve local interests or campaign supporters. And though that may be true, it's also a fact that targeted provisions are still useful in moving legislation — even critical legislation like the bill that pulled Washington back from the fiscal cliff last month.

Read more

5:02pm

Tue January 22, 2013
It's All Politics

Bloomberg Puts Millions Behind Gun-Control Push

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 8:48 pm

At a news conference last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stands with people who have been affected by gun violence.
John Moore Getty Images

Congress faces a battle over gun laws that could be the biggest in a generation.

Leading the charge for gun rights is the National Rifle Association, with its huge budget and grass-roots operations. On the other side, a new leader has emerged in recent years: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not only outspoken on gun control, he has also opened his substantial wallet for the cause.

Read more

3:24am

Mon January 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Critics Decry Looser Rules For Inauguration Fundraising

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 3:27 pm

Construction was under way on Capitol Hill in November for President Obama's Inauguration Day ceremonies.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

A week from Monday, President Obama is to take his public oath of office for a second term.

The inauguration will be marked by celebratory balls and other festivities, sponsored by the privately financed Presidential Inaugural Committee. The first Obama inauguration had strict fundraising rules. But this year, the rules have been loosened, and critics wonder what happened to the president's old pledge to change the way Washington works.

Read more

3:32am

Wed January 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Lobbying Battle Over Hagel Under Way Before Obama's Nod

Originally published on Sun January 13, 2013 9:03 am

Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks at the White House on Monday after President Obama nominated him to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Weeks before President Obama officially nominated Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, the lobbying battle was well under way. The fight might be bigger than any other Cabinet nomination in history as the former Republican senator's friends and foes prepare for modern combat on TV and the Internet.

Read more

5:10am

Sun December 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Conservatives Invoke NAACP Case In Fight For Secret Donors

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 9:27 pm

Republican strategist Karl Rove, shown at the Republican National Convention in August, is arguing for continued secrecy for the new class of million-dollar political donors.
David Goldman AP

Here's a question: What do Republican strategist Karl Rove and civil rights icon Rosa Parks have in common?

The answer: a landmark Supreme Court ruling from 1958 protecting the First Amendment rights of dissident groups.

Read more

6:16pm

Thu December 20, 2012
It's All Politics

Financial Ties Bind NRA, Gun Industry

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 10:51 am

In this photo illustration, a Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle is seen with ammunition.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Leaders of the National Rifle Association plan to break their weeklong silence Friday and make their first public comments on the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

They say they will be speaking for the NRA's 4 million members. But they will also be speaking for the gun industry, which has close financial ties to the association.

The NRA and the gun industry are reeling after last week's massacre. The primary weapon used — an AR-15-style rifle — is one of the most popular guns in America.

Read more

3:50am

Wed December 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Single-Issue Solidarity Behind NRA's Clout

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 am

A visitor handles a revolver at a Smith & Wesson display during the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits on April 14 at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Whitney Curtis Getty Images

The National Rifle Association says it will hold a major news conference Friday — a week after the school massacre in Connecticut — and that it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

Read more

5:47pm

Mon December 10, 2012
It's All Politics

DeMint And Heritage: Playing Off Each Other's Strengths

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., talks on the phone in his Capitol Hill office on Dec. 6, the day he announced he will resign from the Senate and lead the Heritage Foundation.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., shocked Washington last week when he announced that he will quit the Senate to become president of a think tank. But as the barriers crumble between policy research and partisan advocacy, the building blocks are there for DeMint and the conservative Heritage Foundation to build a powerful operation with political clout.

Read more

8:54am

Fri November 23, 2012
It's All Politics

How To Oust A Congressman, SuperPAC-Style

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 1:53 pm

U.S. Rep. Joe Baca of California, shown at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, learned the power of superPACs firsthand this year, when he lost for the first time since he was elected in 1999.
Jae C. Hong AP

After spending millions of dollars in the presidential and Senate campaigns with little to show for it, many superPACs and other outside groups are still tending their wounds. But it's too soon to write off superPACs as a waste of wealthy donors' money.

Consider, for instance, this upset in a congressional race outside Los Angeles.

Read more

5:52pm

Mon November 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Fiscal Cliff Siren: Meet The Man Behind The Curtain

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 8:28 pm

Peter G. Peterson speaks at the Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., last year. The event was sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

Debate over the long-term debt and the annual deficit has dominated the post-election agenda. Both the White House and Congress want to avert massive budget cuts and tax hikes early next year, a situation popularly called the "fiscal cliff."

The challenge has been brewing for years. But its current prominence owes much to the decades-long lobbying of billionaire Peter G. Peterson and his private foundation.

Read more

5:08pm

Tue November 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Some Early Returns From First Post-Citizens United Election

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:15 pm

Political observers are still working through the rubble of the unprecedented $6 billion presidential campaign, but we're getting a steady stream of reaction and analysis.

The liberal advocacy groups U.S. PIRG and Demos have one of the most striking numerical comparisons: 1.4 million to 61.

Read more

3:25am

Mon November 12, 2012
It's All Politics

With Millions Spent, GOP 'Investors' Saw Little Return Election Night

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 5:39 am

A supporter of President Barack Obama raises his arms as it is announced that Obama was re-elected during an election night watch party in Chicago.
Jerome Delay AP

A "return on investment" is a concept better known to Wall Street than to Washington. But after President Obama and the Democrats won most of the close elections last week there are questions about the seven- and eight-figure "investments" made by dozens of conservative donors.

During the election season, it was pretty common to hear about donors making "investments" in superPACs and other outside groups, rather than a "political contribution," perhaps because the phrase has a sort of taint to it.

Read more

5:24pm

Wed November 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Outside Groups Spend Big On Elections, But Don't Have Much To Show For It

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 5:50 pm

Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, speaks last year in Corpus Christi, Texas. Rove is the chief fundraiser for the biggest outside spender this election season: the twin groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.
Michael Zamora AP

This presidential election attracted $1.5 billion in outside spending — TV ads, robocalls and other political activity by groups created to take advantage of the new rules of campaign finance law.

On the day after the voting, the track record of the groups, most of them conservative, is open to question.

Tuesday night was a rough one for Karl Rove. The GOP guru is the guiding light and chief fundraiser for the biggest outside spender: the twin groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

Read more

1:10am

Wed November 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Post-'Citizens United' Senate Snapshot: Money Doesn't Guarantee Victory

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 2:17 am

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is joined by his wife and daughter in celebrating his Senate victory over Republican George Allen.
Mike Theiler UPI /Landov

The battle to control the Senate was a proving ground for the new Citizens United politics. Outside groups unleashed heavily funded barrages of attack ads meant to help elect candidates while letting them keep their distance from the nastiness.

In Ohio and Virginia, the tactic failed in rather dramatic ways, as Republicans backed by secretly financed ads failed to beat seemingly vulnerable Democrats.

Read more

3:27am

Mon November 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Any Way You Describe It, 2012 Campaign Spending Is Historic

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 11:07 am

Voters participate in early voting Friday in Silver Spring, Md.
Alex Wong Getty Images

As relentlessly as the candidates have courted voters, they've also shown their love to donors.

A report by the Center for Responsive Politics places the total cost of the 2012 elections at an estimated $6 billion, which would make it the most expensive election in U.S. history

Read more

5:12pm

Sat November 3, 2012
It's All Politics

With Buses And Billboards, Small-Money Groups Try To Make A Mark

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:23 pm

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, a small-donor PAC, has launched a bus tour to reach conservative voters in hotly contested states, while trying to raise money to launch an anti-Obama TV ad.
Yfat Yossifor Courtesy of Mlive.com

5:37pm

Wed October 31, 2012
It's All Politics

Mysterious Anti-Obama Spam Texts Linked To Republican Consulting Group

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 6:53 pm

A screenshot of an anti-Obama text message received Tuesday evening.
NPR

If you're using social media to follow the presidential campaign or even if you're related to someone else who's doing that, there's a good chance your cellphone got spammed Tuesday night with an anti-Obama text message.

The messages went out between 7:30 and 10 p.m. They were anonymous but quickly traced to a Republican consulting firm in Northern Virginia.

Read more

6:46pm

Mon October 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Study: Secret Donors Significantly Fueling Pro-Romney TV Ads

Costumed demonstrators on Oct. 3 in Denver, before the first presidential debate.
Doug Pensinger Getty Images

Since April, most of the TV ads supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have come from outside groups, not from Romney's own campaign. And those groups raised more than half of their money from secret donors, according to a six-month study of ads.

Read more

6:04am

Sun October 7, 2012
Presidential Race

Taxes Are Certain, But What About Romney's Cuts?

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

Supporters watch Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak on Friday in Abingdon, Va. Romney started off his campaign calling for big tax cuts, but has backed off that somewhat.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Republican Mitt Romney started his campaign calling for big tax cuts, but now he has changed course. He's warning middle-class families not to raise their hopes too high.

Romney couldn't have been more emphatic than he was last November at a candidates' debate in Michigan.

"What I want to do is help the people who've been hurt the most, and that's the middle class," he said. "And so what I do is focus a substantial tax break on middle-income Americans."

Read more

9:04am

Fri September 21, 2012
It's All Politics

Latest Fundraising Picture Shows Strong Month For Obama

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 1:21 pm

Fundraising reports filed last night by the presidential campaigns show President Obama with a slight advantage in fundraising last month, while Republican Mitt Romney has the edge by some other measures.

Each candidate is raising money for his own campaign committee, plus his national party committee and a joint fundraising committee or two.

So what you see depends on what you look at.

In cash on hand, the overall Romney organization finished August with more than $168 million — that's $43 million more than the overall Obama organization.

Read more

6:44pm

Wed September 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama's Post-Charlotte Bounce May Owe More To TV Ads Than Convention

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:24 am

President Obama gives his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Alex Wong Getty Images

It's become conventional wisdom that President Obama's new lead in the polls is a bounce, coming out of the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But an analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project suggests that the bounce might be due to TV ads as much as grand speeches. The Obama campaign and its allies laid out $21.1 million for TV during the two weeks of the party conventions. Over that same stretch, Republican Mitt Romney and his backers spent significantly less, $12.9 million.

Read more

10:36am

Sat September 8, 2012
It's All Politics

Words Wealthy Democratic Donors Should Get Used To: 'It's Me, Rahm'

Originally published on Sat September 8, 2012 2:11 pm

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants you ... if you're a wealthy Democrat who can write a $10 million or $20 million check.
Lynne Sladky AP

Now that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in charge of raising really big dollars for a superPAC that supports President Obama, wealthy Democrats all over the country may be eyeing their phones nervously.

Emanuel, the former Obama White House chief of staff, is known for not taking no for an answer and for aggressively going after what he wants.

Indeed, he's a ferocious fundraiser who gets to the point, often throwing in an epithet or two for emphasis, just the sort of rainmaker needed by Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama superPAC that desperately needs cash.

Read more

5:59am

Sat September 8, 2012
Politics

As Election Nears, Keeping Donors A Secret Is Trickier

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 5:32 pm

iStockphoto.com

12:15pm

Tue August 21, 2012
It's All Politics

Both Sides Can Claim Some Money Advantage In Presidential Race

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 1:53 pm

Air Force One is parked at John F. Kennedy International Airport before President Obama's July 30 departure from New York City, where he was attending a private fundraiser.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

New reports from the presidential campaigns show that Republican Mitt Romney last month widened his cash advantage over President Obama. But the numbers reported to the Federal Election Commission paint a more complex picture of the race and the vast amounts of money fueling the campaign.

The Obama campaign committee, Obama for America, reported raising about $39 million, almost $11 million more than was raised in July by the Romney campaign committee, Romney For President.

Read more

5:20am

Tue August 21, 2012
Election 2012

Campaign Contribution Totals Reveal Complex Picture

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 9:01 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A moment ago we heard warnings that Todd Akin will lose financial support if he stays in the race. For a campaign, of course, money is like oxygen, and the presidential campaigns have set out their latest reports on how they're breathing. President Obama and Mitt Romney each have an advantage, depending on which bank account you're looking at. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more

5:40pm

Mon August 6, 2012
It's All Politics

For July, Romney Fundraising Outpaces Obama Yet Again

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 6:45 pm

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds this month in Golden, Colo.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

In July, the financial fortunes of the presidential candidates continued along their new trajectories, with Republican Mitt Romney's money-raising efforts outpacing President Obama once again.

Indeed, groups supporting Romney raised one-third more than Obama's re-election effort for the month.

Romney, the all-but-official Republican nominee, actually collected less in July than he had in June, but only slightly. His campaign announced Monday that its overall take for July was $101.3 million.

Read more

6:11pm

Fri August 3, 2012
Money & Politics

Not Always Clear Who's Funding Politics-Related Ads

Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 2:11 am

Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, leave a speech by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Prominent Jewish Republicans flew to Israel last weekend to join presidential candidate Mitt Romney on his overseas trip. Among them were casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam.

The Adelsons were in the audience Sunday when Romney gave a policy speech in Jerusaleum. And at a fundraising breakfast Monday, Sheldon Adelson sat by Romney's side.

Read more

5:49pm

Wed July 25, 2012
Money & Politics

Part Of Romney's Foreign Itinerary: Raising Money

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 7:29 pm

A campaign sticker for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seen on a sign for Romney Street in London on Wednesday, as Romney arrived to meet with leaders, hold fundraisers and attend the opening of the Olympics.
Charles Dharapak AP

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on a weeklong trip in which he's scheduled to meet with three prime ministers, give two speeches and attend the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. On a more practical level, he'll also raise some campaign cash.

This trip is designed to highlight how Romney would fix the failings he sees in President Obama's foreign policy.

Romney opened his attack Tuesday while still in the U.S. In an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., he lit into the Obama administration's relationship with Israel.

Read more

Pages