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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It's All Politics
2:57 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Some Early Returns From First Post-Citizens United Election

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 3:15 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.

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It's All Politics
1:25 am
Mon November 12, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 3:39 am

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.

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It's All Politics
3:24 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 3:50 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
11:10 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 12:17 am

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.

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It's All Politics
1:27 am
Mon November 5, 2012

Any Way You Describe It, 2012 Campaign Spending Is Historic

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

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 9:07 am

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

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It's All Politics
3:12 pm
Sat November 3, 2012

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

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

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

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It's All Politics
3:59 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Mysterious Anti-Obama Spam Texts Linked To Republican Consulting Group

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

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 4:53 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
4:46 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

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.

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Presidential Race
4:04 am
Sun October 7, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:24 am

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."

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It's All Politics
7:14 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Latest Fundraising Picture Shows Strong Month For Obama

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 11:21 am

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.

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It's All Politics
4:44 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 9:24 am

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.

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It's All Politics
8:36 am
Sat September 8, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Sat September 8, 2012 12:11 pm

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.

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Politics
3:59 am
Sat September 8, 2012

As Election Nears, Keeping Donors A Secret Is Trickier

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 3:32 pm

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It's All Politics
10:15 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Both Sides Can Claim Some Money Advantage In Presidential Race

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

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 11:53 am

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.

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Election 2012
4:30 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Campaign Contribution Totals Reveal Complex Picture

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:01 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.

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It's All Politics
3:56 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

For July, Romney Fundraising Outpaces Obama Yet Again

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

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 4:45 pm

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.

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Money & Politics
4:11 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Not Always Clear Who's Funding Politics-Related Ads

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

Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 12:11 am

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.

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Money & Politics
3:37 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Part Of Romney's Foreign Itinerary: Raising Money

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

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 5:29 pm

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.

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Mitt Romney
4:04 am
Sat July 21, 2012

Romney Sprints Ahead In Race For Cash

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event in Bow, N.H., Friday. The campaigns have released their monthly financial reports, with Romney showing an advantage over President Obama.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:25 pm

The presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney surged ahead of President Obama last month in fundraising efforts. While Obama continued to get more money from small donors, those who give $200 or less, Romney showed new strength there. Also, big donors have enabled Romney to quickly build a strong cash reserve.

At first glance, it seems that Obama has a nice cushion of cash. Obama for America, his campaign committee, reported almost $98 million cash-on-hand, compared to less than $23 million in the kitty at Romney for President.

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Money & Politics
3:16 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

New Romney Fund Highlights Fundraising Muscle

Mitt Romney arrives at the Utah Olympic Park for a private dinner during a donor's conference in Park City, Utah, on June 22.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:30 pm

Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign says a recently formed arm of the organization collected more than $10 million a week during a three-month period this spring. And most of the money care from high-end donors.

Romney Victory Inc., got its first four contributions on April 6 — three donations of $50,000 each and one check for $350. Since early April, it's pulled in $140 million.

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It's All Politics
1:14 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Democrats Say Anonymous Donors Unfairly Influencing Senate Races

Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 10:25 am

In Senate races, Democrats are fighting to preserve their thin majority. Their party campaign committee wants the Federal Election Commission to crack down on some of the Republicans' wealthiest allies — outside money groups that are using anonymous contributions to finance a multimillion-dollar onslaught of attack ads.

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It's All Politics
10:16 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Supreme Court Says Montana Cannot Ignore Citizens United Ruling

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock sought to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down a state law restricting corporate campaign spending. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected Bullock's argument, holding that "there can be no serious doubt" that Citizens United applies to Montana law.
Matthew Brown AP

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 10:51 am

The state of Montana has lost a closely watched bid to challenge Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that lets corporations deploy their money to help or attack specific candidates.

Citizens United dramatically loosened the restraints on corporate involvement in political campaigns. It also set strict new limits on what's considered "corruption or the appearance of corruption" when it comes to restricting money in politics.

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Politics
1:09 am
Tue June 19, 2012

A Fine Line: Distinguishing Issue Ads From Advocacy

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 7:48 am

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It's All Politics
3:54 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

There's More Secret Money In Politics; Justice Kennedy Might Be Surprised

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the Citizens United opinion saying that corporations can pay for ads expressly promoting or attacking political candidates.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 4:39 pm

Federal election law has required the public disclosure of campaign donors for nearly 40 years.

But this year, outside groups are playing a powerful role in the presidential election. And some of them disclose nothing about their donors. That's despite what the Supreme Court said in its controversial Citizens United ruling two years ago.

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Money & Politics
3:59 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Why Political Ads In 2012 May All Look Alike

Screen grabs of four separate ads from four different political groups critical of President Obama's handling of Solyndra, the failed solar-panel maker. Clockwise from top left, the ads are from: Americans for Prosperity, MittRomney.com, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 4:48 pm

Among the biggest advertisers in the presidential campaign is a group that says it doesn't do political advertising: Crossroads GPS.

Crossroads GPS — which stands for Grassroots Policy Strategies — was co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove. It and others like it enable wealthy donors to finance attack ads while avoiding the public identification they would face if they gave to more overtly political committees.

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Election 2012
3:49 am
Mon May 28, 2012

For A Billionaire, $2M Gets You Superdonor Status

Bill Koch (center) celebrates his team's 1992 America's Cup win. Koch, the brother of billionaire GOP donors Charles and David, has given $2 million to the superPAC backing Mitt Romney.
Vince Bucci AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 8:25 am

In the world of high-dollar politics, the billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch are famous for their lavish funding of conservative politicians and causes. But there's another Koch brother — William — who is passionate about many things, but only recently about politics.

Bill Koch is an avid yachtsman, and he set out to win the 1992 America's Cup. It would take four boats, more than 260 team members and single-minded determination.

David Rosow was the team's business manager and is a longtime friend of Koch's.

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Election 2012
12:35 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Secret Donors Still Find Ways To Remain Anonymous

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 9:00 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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Election 2012
3:07 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Donation Gap Narrows Between Obama, Romney

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 2:49 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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Law
3:23 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Appeals Court Moves Toward Identifying Donors

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 4:47 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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