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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Politics
3:01 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Running Against The Koch Brothers

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch addresses attendees of the Defending the American Dream Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 6:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Since the start of the year, the political ad war against vulnerable Democratic senators has not been run by the Republican Party. Instead, the attacks have been coming from a tax-exempt social welfare group called Americans for Prosperity. Now, Democrats are pushing back. Instead of going after the organization, they're attacking its most prominent benefactors, conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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Movies
4:12 am
Thu February 27, 2014

FBI's Abscam Videos Are As Unbelievable As 'American Hustle'

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 6:30 am

The Oscar contender is loosely based on the Abscam sting, which nailed a senator and six House members on corruption charges. The FBI videotaped some Hollywood-worthy scenes.

Law
3:27 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Once Neglected, Secretaries Of State Step Into The Spotlight

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 6:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Control of Congress won't be the only big question in this fall's elections. A quieter but critical battle is being waged over state-level races for secretary of state. In most states, that's the official in charge of running elections. Elections have become a political lightning rod. Many conservatives rail against voter fraud and lax rules, liberals say that's voter suppression. And now, as NPR's Peter Overby reports, superPACs want to nationalize the fight over secretary of state.

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Politics
2:02 am
Thu February 13, 2014

'Citizens United' Critics Fight Money With Money

A woman signs a giant banner printed with the preamble to the U.S. Constitution during a demonstration against the Citizens United ruling in Washington in October 2010.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 10:19 am

It's been four years since the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling, the case that set the stage for unlimited and often undisclosed contribution money in federal elections. This year, the superPACs and social welfare organizations that use that money for attack ads are already at it, even as Republicans and Democrats are still choosing their candidates for the fall campaigns.

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Politics
4:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Lobbyists Help Pay The Bill At Republican Lawmakers' Retreat

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 7:00 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

House Republicans are midway through their annual retreat. The three-day get-together is happening at a waterside hotel on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Lawmakers of both parties hold this kind of annual partisan conference to map out legislative strategy. And as usual, there's some controversy over who's footing the bill for them.

Here's NPR's Peter Overby.

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Politics
3:55 am
Mon January 27, 2014

IRS Wants To Tighten Its Rule On Social Welfare Groups

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 6:25 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Internal Revenue Service wants to tighten rules on social welfare groups and it has opened itself up for public comment, giving Americans a chance to sound off. It seems people have a lot to sound off about. The agency has received thousands of comments about the IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status and the hundreds of millions of dollars raised from unnamed donors and spent on the 2012 elections. NPR's Peter Overby has more.

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It's All Politics
6:11 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

IRS Gets Spending Bill Smackdown From Congress

John Koskinen, President Obama's choice to head the Internal Revenue Service, testifies Dec. 10 on Capitol Hill before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The IRS is getting a special $200,000 earmark in the 2014 spending bill now moving through Congress.

But it's not because the agency is suddenly in the good graces of lawmakers.

The new funds are earmarked for "intensive training" in the Exempt Organizations division – the office that pulled the IRS into its worst scandal in years. Last spring, Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner apologized for the division's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups that were seeking tax exemptions as 501c4 social welfare organizations.

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It's All Politics
2:34 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Political Groups Aim Early Attacks At New Hampshire Senator

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in the U.S. Capitol building May 14, 2013. Groups are creating ads in New Hampshire to attack Shaheen 10 months before the midterm congressional elections.
Allison Shelley Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 6:32 am

Even with 10 months to go before the midterm congressional elections, some political and ideological groups are already on the air, attacking incumbents they hope to take down in November.

One race that's attracting early advertisers is in New Hampshire, where Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is seeking a second term, and two tax-exempt social welfare organizations are buying ads against her.

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Politics
3:23 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Remembering The Texans Who Made Attack Ads Nastier

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 5:18 pm

Texas Republican Harold Simmons, who died last weekend, was known for throwing millions of dollars into fiercely aggressive attack ads against Democrats. His death, along with that of Texas conservative Bob Perry earlier this year, signals the fading of the first wave of mega-donors in modern American politics.

Politics
3:02 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Conservatives Want What Socialists Got: Anonymous Political Cash

Even conservatives who once championed disclosure of political spending are now arguing that contributions should be able to be made secretly, and they point to the long-standing exemption from disclosure for the Socialist Workers Party.

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