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
8:40 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
5:52 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
5:15 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Some Early Returns From First Post-Citizens United Election

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
3:25 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 5:39 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
5:34 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
1:04 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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Underground Campaigns
12:46 pm
Mon November 5, 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
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
5:38 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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It's All Politics
6:46 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
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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It's All Politics
9:04 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
6:58 am
Fri September 21, 2012

President Obama Outraises Mitt Romney In August

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Fundraising reports filed last night by the presidential campaigns look like recent public opinion polls - they show President Obama with a narrow advantage in monthly fundraising last month, although Republican Mitt Romney has the edge by some other measures.

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It's All Politics
6:35 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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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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