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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5:05pm

Mon May 13, 2013
Around the Nation

IRS Under Fire For Targeting Conservative Groups

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 5:42 pm

Tea Party activists gather on Capitol Hill in 2011. A surge in applications for 501(c)(4) status in recent years has revealed sometimes murky and contradictory rules governing the political activities of tax-exempt groups.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

President Obama expressed outrage Monday over the Internal Revenue Service's admission that it targeted certain conservative groups for extra scrutiny. By the time the president weighed in, members of both parties in Congress had already begun preparing hearings to grill IRS officials on the issue.

The controversy is rooted in a question neither the IRS nor Congress has answered clearly: Exactly what kind of political activity is allowed for tax-exempt groups — particularly those with secret donors?

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4:21am

Mon May 13, 2013
Politics

SEC Focus May Lead To 2012 Stock Act Being Amended

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 8:41 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's turn now to the topic of political intelligence. This is the business of collecting highly detailed information from Congress and the regulatory agencies and then using it to make it money on Wall Street. The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating this practice. The probe comes a year after Congress passed legislation that barred lawmakers and staffers from leaking insider information as a violation of their official duties.

Here's NPR's Peter Overby.

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5:23pm

Fri May 10, 2013
Governing

After Targeting Conservative Groups, IRS Apologizes

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 7:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. After more than a year of denials by the IRS, a director at the agency apologized today for its targeting of Tea Party and patriot groups. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, the apology has reignited a political controversy.

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3:24am

Fri May 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Why Lobbying Is Now Increasingly In The Shadows

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 12:14 pm

The lobbying industry in Washington is becoming more secretive.
Bill Ingalls/NASA Getty Images

While ideological gridlock continues to immobilize Capitol Hill, another of Washington's institutions is morphing behind the scenes.

The lobbying industry is becoming more secretive — reversing a trend that dates back to the 1990s. And campaign money now looms ever larger as a critical element in the persuasion business.

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11:36am

Fri April 26, 2013
It's All Politics

FEC: DOMA Limits Political Donations By Gay Married Couples

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 3:46 pm

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Winslow of Massachusetts wants same-sex married couples to have the same right to pool their money for political donations as other married couples. But the Federal Election Commission says the Defense of Marriage Act won't allow it. The constitutionality of DOMA is now before the Supreme Court.
Charles Krupa AP

Maybe it's not your first thought after saying "I do," but federal election law gives married couples some advantages in making political contributions. The Federal Election Commission tried Thursday to make those same breaks available to couples in same-sex marriages — but commissioners said they're thwarted by the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

True, President Obama's Justice Department no longer defends DOMA, and the Supreme Court is weighing whether to get rid of it. But the FEC didn't want to get too far out in front. The vote was a reluctant 5-0.

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7:50pm

Tue April 23, 2013
It's All Politics

Bill Would Expand Disclosure Of Political Money

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 10:56 am

Senators Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, discussing their new campaign finance legislation at an April 23, 2013 Capitol Hill news conference.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The partisan rift over disclosing political donors has widened since last year's election. But now, along come Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., with a bill that would radically expand the disclosure of political money trails.

Their bill is aimed at outing the wealthy donors, corporations and unions that financed some $300 million in secretly funded campaign ads last year. Most of the anonymous money was raised and spent by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, including the conservative Crossroads GPS and the liberal Patriot Majority.

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6:17pm

Mon April 15, 2013
Remembrances

Remembering Bob Perry, Who Funded Political Attack Ads

Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 10:02 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Texas multimillionaire Bob Perry died this past Saturday. Perry made his money building suburban homes. He then spent much of it in ways that changed American politics.

NPR's Peter Overby tells us more.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Bob Perry died at age 80. He never said much in public about his politics. The money spoke for him. In 2004, he plowed four and a half million dollars into the group that produced this ad.

(SOUNDBITE OF AN AD)

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5:08pm

Fri April 12, 2013
Politics

Thousands Petition SEC To Disclose Corporate Political Spending

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 5:20 pm

Nearly 500,000 people have petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to make publicly-traded corporations disclose their political spending. The question is: How much clout do 500,000 people actually have?

12:51pm

Sat March 30, 2013
It's All Politics

IRS To 'Social Welfare' Groups: Show Me The Political Ad Money

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 3:07 pm

Sen. Carl Levin has been a vocal advocate for transparency in political ad spending.
Alex Wong Getty Images

There are still unanswered questions about the politically active 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups. The anonymously funded entities' multimillion-dollar ad budgets helped to clog the airwaves last year.

How much did they really spend to intervene in the 2012 campaign? What kinds of sources supplied their money? What ties do they maintain with other nonprofit organizations or for-profit companies?

The IRS is now trying to address some of the unknowns by asking organizations to fill out a questionnaire about their finances.

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2:41pm

Thu March 28, 2013
It's All Politics

Thieves Target Political Ad Consultants On New FCC Site

A woman views a Mitt Romney campaign ad in September, a month after the launch of an online government database that is supposed to make it easier for the public to see what political ads air in big markets, and how much is spent on them.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Poke into the obscure corners of the Federal Communications Commission's website, and you can find one of the deepest disclosures in campaign finance.

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