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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5:04pm

Thu January 15, 2015
It's All Politics

Conservative Koch Brothers' Group Puts Congressional GOP On Notice

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 10:12 am

Congressional Republicans have "been given a second chance by the American people," AFP President Tim Phillips said. "And we're going to hold them accountable. We're determined about that."
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Americans for Prosperity, the most prominent arm of the Koch brothers' organization, put Republican lawmakers on notice Thursday, setting out a conservative agenda for Congress. AFP leaders say it will be pushed by the group's grass-roots supporters in 34 states.

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4:55pm

Tue January 13, 2015
Politics

5 Years After 'Citizens United,' SuperPACs Continue To Grow

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:45 pm

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush listens before a Nov. 20 speaking engagement in Washington.
Susan Walsh AP

Prospective Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is moving to get his share via a new political committee. The way he did it could blaze a new trail for candidates seeking out million-dollar donors.

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5:13am

Tue December 30, 2014
NPR Story

Progressives Create State Innovation Exchange To Counter ALEC

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:19 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

11:38am

Fri December 19, 2014
It's All Politics

Advocacy Groups Tell Lawmakers To Back Off

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:00 pm

Workers with the Pebble Mine project test-drill in July 2007 in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma.
Al Grillo AP

Three advocacy organizations — across ideological lines — are telling congressional investigators to back off in a probe of EPA ties to a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana are leading the investigation. They contend that NRDC lobbyists have exerted too much influence over EPA on the issues of carbon reduction and the proposed Pebble Mine at Bristol Bay, Alaska.

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8:13am

Thu December 11, 2014
Business

Should Homeowners With Solar Panels Pay To Maintain Electrical Grid?

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 12:14 pm

Solar energy panels on a roof in Marshfield, Mass.
Stephan Savoia AP

The costs of solar energy are plummeting, and now are about on par with the electricity generated at big power plants. This new reality intensifies a long-running business and regulatory battle, between the mainline electric utility companies and newer firms that provide solar systems for homeowners' rooftops. Sometimes the rivalry looks more like hardball politics than marketplace economics.

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12:24pm

Tue December 2, 2014
It's All Politics

Study: Campaign Cash Brings Tax Benefits On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 7:55 pm

J. Scott Applewhite AP

A new analysis takes aim at one of political science's evergreen topics: What do donors get in exchange for their campaign contributions?

The answer, according to three researchers at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, is that "investments in on-going access to policymakers are associated with future tax benefits."

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3:48am

Mon November 17, 2014
Politics

Top Spenders On Capitol Hill Pay Billions, Receive Trillions

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 3:24 pm

The amount of money spent on Capitol Hill is way more than small change — but the impact of that money is a little murky. Here, the U.S. Capitol is reflected in a fountain full of coins on Election Day this year.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

How much power should corporations wield in Washington? It's an enduring question — and now the Sunlight Foundation has devised a new way to gauge that power.

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5:51pm

Thu November 6, 2014
The Two-Way

Alaska Station Sets Dubious Record: Most Senate Campaign Ads

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan greets supporters on election night in Anchorage. The as-yet-undecided race between Sullivan and Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Begich was the hottest in the state.
Ted S. Warren AP

It's a record most Alaskans might wish they could give back: The Center for Public Integrity calculates that KTUU TV in Anchorage ran more U.S. Senate ads this cycle than any other television station in the country — 12,300 in all.

Those Senate spots made up the bulk of the 13,400 political ads since January. KTUU General Manager Andrew MacLeod says 2014 was the the station's busiest year ever. By contrast, off-year 2013 was relatively light.

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4:39am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics

Money Mixes Up Missouri Circuit-Court Race

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 1:17 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now another story of big, political money coming to small-town America. In Cole County, Missouri, a circuit court judge is fighting to stay on the bench. Her challenger was underfunded until he got some outside help. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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4:23am

Mon October 20, 2014
Politics

This Political Ad Was Paid For By — Oh, Never Mind

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 6:42 pm

Among outside groups — that is, not candidates or party committees — more than half of this cycle's political ads are financed by secret donors.
iStockphoto

When you talk about "outside" money in politics, there's a good chance you'll talk about billionaire activists David and Charles Koch.

Especially if you're Harry Reid. The Senate majority leader regularly takes to the Senate floor to slam the Kochs for financing a network of conservative groups. Back in March, he said he was criticizing "two very wealthy brothers who intend to buy their own Congress, a Congress beholden to their money and bound to enact their radical philosophy."

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6:14pm

Wed September 24, 2014
Politics

Dems Probably Won't Take The House, So Why Are They Raising So Much?

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 11:12 am

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised millions from fired-up small donors.
Catherine Lane iStockphoto

Here's an odd twist in the midterm elections: Even though Republicans are generally expected to keep their majority in the House, it's the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is raking in the bucks.

A big reason for the difference lies in online fundraising.

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4:24pm

Thu September 18, 2014
It's All Politics

Billionaire GOP Donor Finally Opens Checkbook For 2014

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 7:20 pm

Republican Party leaders are urging big donors to start writing checks, and the check-writers now include Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

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6:47pm

Mon September 15, 2014
It's All Politics

Tommy Boggs, Influential Lobbyist, Dies At 73

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 1:44 pm

Brian K. Diggs AP

Tommy Boggs, a longtime lobbyist who in many ways epitomized the Washington establishment, has died. His sister, Morning Edition commentator Cokie Roberts, said he apparently had a heart attack.

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., 73, pioneered a new, more professional way of lobbying starting in the 1960s, when he saw how power in Washington was becoming more diffuse. Clout on Capitol Hill spread from the House and Senate leadership to more junior members, especially in reforms after the Watergate scandal. In the executive branch, the number of regulatory agencies increased.

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3:15am

Mon September 1, 2014
It's All Politics

A Political Family, Funding And Running On Both Sides Of The Aisle

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 11:02 am

The Ricketts family poses on the Chicago Cubs field in 2010, a year after they bought the team: Laura Ricketts (from left), Joe Ricketts, Marlene Ricketts, Todd Ricketts, Tom Ricketts and Pete Ricketts.
Nam Y. Huh AP

Rich families sustain American politics. Some produce candidates; others supply money. And in rare instances, a family will do both.

Meet Nebraska billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of Ending Spending, an independent political organization that's among the top 10 spenders this election cycle. Three of his four children are politically active, including one who's running for governor.

A Billionaire With Political Punch

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7:04pm

Wed August 27, 2014
It's All Politics

Former Iowa Lawmaker Admits To Getting Payoff Before 2012 Caucuses

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 9:24 pm

Kent Sorenson says he was paid for his endorsement of Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential campaign — and that the exchange was hidden from the public.
Charles Dharapak AP

A former Iowa state senator says he concealed money he took for shifting loyalty from Rep. Michele Bachmann to then-Rep. Ron Paul during the 2012 presidential campaign.

There's always a certain amount of weirdness in the Iowa presidential caucuses, and in the 2012 cycle the peak weirdness might have come just before New Year's. Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson, the Iowa chairman for Bachmann's campaign, jumped to the Paul campaign six days before the voting — immediately setting off rumors that he had taken a payoff for switching sides.

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