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
6:16 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Financial Ties Bind NRA, Gun Industry

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

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

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.

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It's All Politics
5:47 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

DeMint And Heritage: Playing Off Each Other's Strengths

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

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

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.

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Election 2012
4:24 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Obama, Romney Each Raised More Than $1 Billion

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A nearly complete picture is emerging of the money chase that shaped the presidential election. President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each raised more than a billion dollars, according to new reports filed at the Federal Election Commission. But in the new era of unregulated outside groups and seemingly endless TV ads, that was only the beginning, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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It's All Politics
8:54 am
Fri November 23, 2012

How To Oust A Congressman, SuperPAC-Style

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

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

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.

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It's All Politics
6:20 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Siren: Meet The Man Behind The Curtain

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

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

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.

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It's All Politics
4:57 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

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.

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It's All Politics
5:24 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 5:50 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
1:29 am
Wed November 7, 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 2:17 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
3:27 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 11:07 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
5:12 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 7:23 pm

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It's All Politics
5:59 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 6:53 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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Election 2012
5:07 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Obama Campaign To Exceed $1B In Fundraising

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 6:30 am

The Obama organization is expected to exceed $1 billion in fundraising, as the candidates, party committees and superPACs file their last disclosure reports before Election Day.

Presidential Race
6:13 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Obama Holds Advertising Advantage Over Romney

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 7:06 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. A low profile wing of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has just reported raising a remarkable amount of money - $236 million in just the past few months. The report comes from Romney Victory, Incorporated, that's a joint fundraising committee that allows donors to give far more than the usual $5,000. Its limit is over $75,000 per person.

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It's All Politics
6:26 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

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 6:46 pm

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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Election 2012
4:51 am
Mon October 15, 2012

SuperPacs For Romney Coordinate TV Ad Buys

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 1:13 pm

Since April, more than 825,000 presidential campaign ads have been broadcast in the battleground states. Oddly, the dominant Republican voice on TV hasn't been that of nominee Mitt Romney. The big advertisers are four heavily funded SuperPacs and tax-exempt groups.

Presidential Race
6:04 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 1:24 pm

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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Politics
4:35 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Republican Firm Tied To Voter Fraud Allegations

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 6:14 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Congressional Democrats are looking into allegations that a Republican consulting firm committed voter registration fraud. The head of the company is an Arizona operative with a reputation for aggressive tactics, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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Politics
4:46 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Citizen's United Ruling Benefits Union Campaigners

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 5:54 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are spending a lot of time in Ohio this week. The battleground state is being pounded with TV ads. Many of the pro-Romney spots come from the outside groups that sprang up after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. But that decision isn't just benefiting conservative causes.

NPR's Peter Overby reports from Ohio on what Citizens United has done for organized labor.

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It's All Politics
9:03 am
Fri September 21, 2012

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.

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Election 2012
5:06 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Congress Is Busy, But Not With Legislative Business

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 8:09 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From the race for president, now to Congress. It's caught in a serious time crunch, not to finish its legislative business, though it hasn't done much of that this year. No, the real squeeze is in the campaign fundraising. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, lawmakers are trying to fill up lobbyists' schedules with events hoping to extract a few more dollars for their re-election bids.

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It's All Politics
6:44 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 11:24 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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Presidential Race
5:10 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Obama Campaign Edged Ahead In August Fundraising

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 6:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Relentless fundraising efforts paid off last month for President Obama and Mitt Romney. Their campaign said today they each took in more than $110 million.

NPR's Peter Overby has details.

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It's All Politics
10:36 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 2:11 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
5:59 am
Sat September 8, 2012

As Election Nears, Keeping Donors A Secret Is Trickier

iStockphoto.com

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

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Politics
6:01 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Democrats, GOP Need Donors For Party Conventions

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 11:56 am

The Democratic and Republican parties are preparing for their respective nominating conventions in Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. That means each side will depend, as usual, on donors to help pay for the events.

It's All Politics
12:15 pm
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 1:53 pm

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
4:48 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.

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It's All Politics
5:56 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 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.

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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.

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