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

Election 2012
5:20 am
Tue August 21, 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
It's All Politics
5:40 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 6:45 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.

Read more
Money & Politics
6:11 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 2:11 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.

Read more
Money & Politics
5:49 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 7:29 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.

Read more
Mitt Romney
6:04 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 3:25 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.

Read more
Money & Politics
5:31 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 3:30 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.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:14 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 12:25 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
12:17 pm
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 12:51 pm

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.

Read more
Politics
3:09 am
Tue June 19, 2012

A Fine Line: Distinguishing Issue Ads From Advocacy

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 9:48 am

Read more
Politics
7:48 am
Sat June 16, 2012

McConnell Argues Against Requiring Donor Disclosure

Friday Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it's time to roll back the Watergate-era requirement for public disclosure of campaign donors. He accused President Obama and liberals of trying to stifle the First Amendment rights of conservative donors.

It's All Politics
5:54 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 6:39 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.

Read more
Money & Politics
6:02 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 6:48 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.

Read more
Election 2012
5:49 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 10:25 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.

Read more
Election 2012
2:35 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Secret Donors Still Find Ways To Remain Anonymous

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 11:00 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.

Read more
Law
5:23 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Appeals Court Moves Toward Identifying Donors

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 6:47 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.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:14 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

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

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 10:43 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.

Read more
Presidential Race
3:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Gingrich Out Of The Race, But Still In Debt

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

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:42 am

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.

Read more
Election 2012
3:32 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Romney's Big-Dollar 'Bundlers' Stay Anonymous

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

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 10:07 am

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

Read more
It's All Politics
5:02 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 5:37 pm

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?

Read more
Politics
4:42 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Charity Status Of Conservative Group Challenged

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 6:36 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.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:31 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Presidential Fundraising Numbers Poised To Skyrocket

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 5:11 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.

Read more
Politics
5:04 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Conservative Group Criticized For Tax-Exempt Status

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 6:34 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.

Read more
Governing
3:31 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Boycotts Hitting Group Behind 'Stand Your Ground'

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

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 10:37 am

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.

Read more
Money & Politics
4:44 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Romney, SuperPAC Outspend Rivals Combined

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 10:23 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.

Read more
Election 2012
3:41 am
Tue March 20, 2012

For A Personal Cause, Casino Owner Bets On Gingrich

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

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 9:05 am

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.

Read more

Pages