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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NPR Story
4:52 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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It's All Politics
5:20 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?

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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.

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It's All Politics
4:43 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.

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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.

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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.

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Money & Politics
12:01 am
Tue March 13, 2012

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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It's All Politics
2:17 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

SuperPACs Allied With Romney, Santorum Spend Big On Ads In South

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 1:37 pm

Two presidential superpacs are rocketing out of Super Tuesday with big ad buys. Restore Our Future, supporting Mitt Romney, tells the Federal Election Commission it's spending nearly $2.8 million in four states; Alabama and Mississippi, which have primaries Tuesday, plus Illinois and Louisiana, which vote a week later.

Restore Our Future reported that the expenditures included direct mail and phone banking. But 94 percent of the money is going to TV stations, to put ads on the air.

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Money & Politics
6:05 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Pro-Romney SuperPAC Spent Big On Super Tuesday

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at a town hall meeting in Bexley, Ohio, last month. Romney won Ohio by less than 1 percent in Tuesday's primary.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 10:39 am

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's six primary wins on Super Tuesday didn't come cheap. An NPR analysis shows that last week alone, the Romney campaign and the pro-Romney superPAC combined spent nearly $7 million on TV ads.

Less than $1 million of that was spent by Romney's official campaign, while the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future — which has almost exclusively engaged in negative advertising this year — spent $5.7 million.

That's compared to $220,000 spent on ads last week by the superPAC supporting former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

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Mitt Romney
12:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Romney's Wins Have Come With Negative Messages

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters at a town hall meeting at Taylor Winfield in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:13 pm

It's Super Tuesday for the Republican presidential contenders, and 10 states are holding primaries and caucuses.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes he can firm up his front-runner status — a status that, an NPR analysis shows, has so far involved his campaign and a pro-Romney superPAC burying the opposition with negative messages.

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Money & Politics
3:00 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Who Bankrolls Romney? Big Donors, Not Small Ones

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting at Eagle Manufacturing Corp. in Shelby Township, Mich., on Tuesday.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 10:48 pm

Mitt Romney had the strongest fundraising among the Republican presidential contenders last month. But a deeper look raises questions about just how strong it is in the long run.

The Romney campaign is unusually reliant on big donors — and weak on small donors.

In one sense, big donors are great. It's a lot quicker and cheaper to raise $2,500 from one person than to get $10 from 250 people. But there's a catch: $2,500 is the legal limit for donations to a candidate's campaign. Once that donor maxes out, you need to find another donor.

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Presidential Race
6:59 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Romney Leads Gingrich In Money; Obama Bests Both

Millions of dollars have been spent on television ads during this campaign cycle.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 10:10 pm

As the Republican candidates were rallying their supporters in Florida on Tuesday night, their campaigns were quietly sending disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission in Washington. The big picture: Mitt Romney had more money than Newt Gingrich. President Obama had more than either of them. And a few of the new superPACs filed donor lists filled with high rollers.

Tuesday's disclosures run only through Dec. 31 but still reveal some essential truths.

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