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
3:00 am
Fri July 31, 2015

Are Donald Trump's Pockets Deep Enough To Fund His Campaign?

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in front of his campaign plane in Laredo, Texas, last week.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 7:52 am

In the weeks since Donald Trump launched his self-financed bid for president, the multibillionaire's hard-edged rhetoric has gotten far more attention than the potential impact of his massive wealth.

Trump has several times said his net worth is or exceeds $10 billion, providing all the money he needs to run.

"I don't need anybody's money," he said as he announced his candidacy in June. "I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich."

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Politics
3:55 am
Thu July 16, 2015

2016's Campaign War Chests Are Just Jewelry Boxes Next To The Super PACs

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 1:51 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's All Politics
4:08 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Small Donors Fueled Sanders' $15 Million Fundraising Haul

A supporter registers for a town hall meeting Thursday in Rochester, Minn.
Jim Mone AP

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, running in the Democratic presidential primaries, has raised about $15 million, his campaign said Thursday.

His campaign emphasized the grass-roots strength of his fundraising: 250,000 donors making nearly 400,000 contributions of $250 or less.

The numbers come from a quarterly disclosure report being filed at the Federal Election Commission, and are measured from when Sanders launched his campaign April 30.

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Economy
2:15 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

Export-Import Bank Set To Expire At Midnight After Congress Fails To Act

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 7:09 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's All Politics
12:00 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

The Problem With Donald Trump's One-Page Summary On His Wealth

Donald Trump displays a copy of a summary of his net worth during his presidential announcement Tuesday.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 3:56 pm

Just how much is Donald Trump worth?

"I'm really rich," Trump declared during his presidential announcement Tuesday in New York at Trump Tower, one of the many buildings around the world donning his name.

But just how rich has always been a question. It was one before the real-estate mogul declared for president and, well, it remains a big question afterward, too, despite Trump holding up a one-page form declaring he is worth roughly $9 billion.

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It's All Politics
10:37 am
Fri June 12, 2015

Crossing The Line: Political Operative Gets 2 Years In Prison

Republican political operative Tyler Harber admitted in federal court to illegally coordinating between a campaign and superPAC. He was sentenced to two years in prison and two years' probation.
Neil Conway flickr Creative Common

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 9:05 pm

The first political operative to ever be found guilty of illegally coordinating between a superPAC and campaign was sentenced Friday to two years in prison and two additional years of probation.

"I did it, it was wrong when I did it, and I knew it was wrong when I did it," Tyler Harber admitted in federal court Friday.

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Politics
3:35 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Political Consultant To Be Sentenced For Violating Campaign Finance Law

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 4:52 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's All Politics
3:04 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Billionaire Or Bust: Who Are Rich Backers Lining Up With?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush poses with supporters for photos during a fundraiser in May.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 3:11 pm

Jeb Bush was pleading for money. Late last month a fundraising email, sent in his name, asked donors for "$100, $50, $25, or anything you can spare right now." Bush said his political action committee still needed $5,674 to meet a monthly goal.

The same day his organization hit "send" on that email, Bush was talking about the big-donor fundraising for his superPAC — $100 million so far, some of it solicited by Bush himself.

"We're going to completely adhere to the law for sure," the former Florida governor said on CBS's Face the Nation.

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It's All Politics
5:57 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Americans Think Money In Politics Is A Problem, But Just How Big?

Significant majorities of people say money in politics is a problem, but it doesn't register among their top concerns.
pictures of money Flickr Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 9:34 am

A New York Times-CBS News poll offers compelling new numbers measuring Americans' attitudes toward the rising tide of political money.

Just one question: Which numbers should you believe?

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It's All Politics
6:10 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

Fact Check: 3 Questions Answered About Bill Clinton's LLC

Bill Clinton and his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, are facing renewed questions about their finances.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 12:44 pm

Another day, another inquiry into the finances of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

This one starts with an Associated Press report that a limited liability company — WJC LLC — has served as a platform for the former president's career as a consultant. Revenues flow through it to the Clintons. It has never appeared in Hillary Clinton's official financial disclosures.

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It's All Politics
12:26 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Gyrocopter Pilot On His 'Incredible' Flight Onto Capitol Lawn

Doug Hughes said he sees his future as working for "the cause of getting a Congress — not more liberal, not more conservative — but a Congress that is working for the people."
Peter Overby NPR

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 6:39 am

Florida postman Doug Hughes made headlines last month for landing his gyrocopter on the lawn in front of the Capitol building.

In an interview with NPR, Hughes said he "made every effort to send word ahead" about the flight, but also knew he would be taken into custody. He made the flight anyway, he said, to "get a message to the American people — not that there's a problem with Congress but that there are solutions to the problem."

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It's All Politics
6:39 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Postman Who Gyrocoptered Onto Capitol Lawn Faces Two Felonies

A gyrocopter rests April 15 on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old postal worker from Ruskin, Fla., landed the lightweight helicopter on the Capitol lawn to promote campaign finance reform. He's scheduled to enter pleas to multiple charges Thursday.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 10:39 am

Doug Hughes, the Florida postman who gyrocoptered through Washington's anti-terrorism warning system to land on the Capitol lawn, now faces two felonies, four misdemeanors and up to 9 1/2 years in prison for his efforts.

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It's All Politics
5:39 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Inside The Obama And Biden Financial Disclosures

President Barack Obama's 2014 Financial Disclosure Report
whitehouse.gov

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 6:10 pm

You just had a good look at your financial situation last month, when you did your tax return. Now you can check out the government's official financial reports on President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Federal elected officials, candidates and high-level bureaucrats have to file annual financial disclosure statements. The Obamas and Bidens submitted their 2014 reports this week.

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It's All Politics
11:33 am
Fri May 15, 2015

'Candidates' Driving Cash-Filled Trucks Through Campaign-Finance Loopholes

Candidates, and "un-candidates," for the presidency are slicing and dicing campaign-finance law, testing the boundaries of what's legal.
TaxCredits.net via Flickr

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 3:47 pm

If Congress is all about sausage-making, Washington's political-money industry has its own specialty: slicing the particular sausage that is campaign finance law, thinner and thinner.

The meat of the law is in its definitions. What is a "contribution"? An "expenditure"? What does "coordinate" really mean? "Public communication"? How about "candidate"?

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It's All Politics
2:37 am
Fri May 8, 2015

17 Months Before Election Day, One Campaign Aims For $100 Million

"Exploratory" Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks April 17 at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H. His super PAC — Right to Rise — is aiming to raise $100 million dollars by June 1.
Brian Snyder Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 4:07 pm

The price tag for the most expensive penthouses in Manhattan is just edging past $100 million. That's also the size of contributions given by conservative businessman David Koch and Hollywood mogul David Geffen to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where each philanthropist got naming rights for a building.

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Politics
3:39 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Beyond Quid Pro Quo: What Counts As Political Corruption?

Can candidates courting billionaires count as corruption, even if there are no explicit strings attached? Some activists see the campaign contributions of the super-rich as a problem, regardless of whether "quid pro quo" deals are made. Here, activists protest the political influence of the wealthy Koch Brothers near David Koch's Manhattan apartment on June 5, 2014.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 2:38 pm

The presidential hopefuls haven't spent much time so far with voters. Instead, they've committed many days to courting the millionaires and billionaires who can fuel a White House bid. And at the same time, activists on the left and right are seeking to redefine political corruption, which they believe this is.

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It's All Politics
4:58 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Court: Corporations May Be People, But 'Judges Are Not Politicians'

David Barrows, of Washington, D.C., waves a flag with corporate logos and fake money during a rally against money in politics outside the Supreme Court in 2013.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 7:11 pm

If there's one thing that today's Supreme Court doesn't like, it's governmental overreach in regulating political money.

But if there's something the court likes even less, it's the increasing prominence of money in electing America's judges. That's how five justices came to uphold a rule in Florida that prevents judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign cash.

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It's All Politics
5:07 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Fact Check: Is The Clinton Foundation 'The Most Transparent'?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Clinton foundation's Clinton Global Initiative conference with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, looking on.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 8:29 pm

During the early phase of her presidential run, Hillary Clinton has been dogged by scrutiny of her family's foundation, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Clintons have pushed back, calling the foundation among the most transparent foundations in the world.

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Politics
4:30 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton Supports Amendment To Get Hidden Money Out Of Politics

"We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment," Hillary Clinton said at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa Tuesday.
Michael B. Thomas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 10:27 pm

Hillary Clinton made a surprising move this week. It wasn't running for president — she'd already set the stage for that — but embracing the idea of a constitutional amendment to restrict or eliminate big money in politics.

The notion of amending the Constitution this way has been discussed, literally for decades. But Clinton is joining a new, if small, chorus of prominent politicians who are talking it up.

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It's All Politics
8:03 am
Wed April 15, 2015

You Didn't Check The 'Presidential Election Campaign' Box On Your Taxes, Did You?

iStock

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 10:46 am

Here's a question for you last-minute tax filers. See that little checkoff box at the top of the 1040 tax form, the one labeled "Presidential Election Campaign"? You didn't check it, did you?

If not, then you're just like pretty much everybody else.

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It's All Politics
2:12 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Who Needs One SuperPAC When You Can Have Four?

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign recently leaked claims that the four superPACs backing him would pull in $31 million in the campaign's first week.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 12:59 pm

As Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., prepared for his official announcement of a White House run, so had Conservative Solutions PAC. It's a superPAC focused exclusively on helping Rubio reach his goal.

Technically, Conservative Solutions has no ties to Rubio. His campaign can't coordinate messages or strategy with it.

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It's All Politics
11:24 am
Thu April 2, 2015

The Menendez Paradox: Facing Charges After Testifying Against Corruption

Sen. Robert Menendez on his way to the Senate floor for a series of votes last week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 8:50 pm

Sen. Bob Menendez, who came up in the sharp-edged politics of Hudson County, N.J., has been under varying levels of ethics scrutiny in seven of his nine-plus years as a senator.

He'd never been indicted — until yesterday.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Watchdog Groups File Complaints Against Likely Candidates

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is one of four "un-candidates" being targeted by liberal groups Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21. They say the politicians have crossed the line into candidacy based on their activities in recent months.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 1:30 pm

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

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It's All Politics
1:44 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Money Rules: Candidates Go Around The Law, As Cash Records To Be Smashed

"Who, me? Run?" Would-be presidential candidates are ditching "testing the waters" and "exploratory committees" to hold onto unlimited and undisclosed cash for longer.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 7:32 am

This is Part One in an occasional series of features on campaign finance, called "Money Rules."

The hunt for big bucks is changing the way politicians run for president.

When a candidate finally admits he or she is a candidate, donors are limited to gifts of $2,700. (A donor can give an additional $2,700 if the candidate makes it through to the general election.)

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It's All Politics
1:44 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

The Rules Don't Apply To Hillary Clinton ... Or Any Of The Other Un-Candidates

Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations on Tuesday in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state.
Yana Paskova Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:20 pm

Hillary Clinton is, at least for now, not officially running for president. That's what she has said all along, and now all six members of the Federal Election Commission are on record agreeing with her.

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Politics
6:02 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

So Far The 2016 Campaign Is More Like The 2016 Un-campaign

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sips tea on Turkish television program "Lets come to be with us" at the US Embassy in Ankara March 7, 2009.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 8:40 pm

There's a touch of Alice In Wonderland in the 2016 presidential campaign. What's weird isn't that it's started so early, and not that the hopefuls are raising so much money. It's that almost all of those running insist they're not really candidates.

They're acting like candidates – or almost – while struggling to avoid anything that might trigger the description in campaign finance law of a candidate "testing the waters." The law calls for prospective candidates to set up exploratory committees, which have strict contribution limits.

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It's All Politics
4:53 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Clinton Foundation Funding Woes Touch Hillary, Too

The Clinton Foundation has taken contributions, of $1 million to $10 million, from the governments of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi Arabian government has given as much as $25 million.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 11:21 am

With assets approaching $226 million, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation plays a prominent role in international development. It has battled HIV/AIDS, provided relief after tsunamis and earthquakes and helped farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries.

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It's All Politics
12:47 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

2014 Midterm Election Was The Most Expensive One Yet

Supporters cheer in Colorado Springs, Colo., as a television broadcast declares that Republicans have taken control of the Senate. Republican candidates, party committees and outside groups spent about $44 million more than Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 2:41 pm

As the presidential hopefuls chase after big donors, the Center for Responsive Politics brings us a quick look in the rearview mirror:

The 2014 congressional midterm elections cost $3.77 billion, the center says, making them — no surprise here — the most expensive midterms yet. CRP also reports that those dollars appeared to come from a smaller cadre of donors — 773,582, the center says. That's about 5 percent fewer than in the 2010 midterms.

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Politics
2:47 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

FEC Invites Comment On Campaign Finance Laws At First Public Hearing

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:53 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's All Politics
5:23 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Koch Brothers Put Price Tag On 2016: $889 Million

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch speaks in Orlando, Fla., in August 2013.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 5:33 pm

The political network led by industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend $889 million for the 2016 elections. In modern politics, it's more than just a ton of money.

It's about as much as the entire national Republican Party spent in the last presidential election cycle, four years ago. And as Sheila Krumholz — director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks politicians and donors — pointed out in an interview, it's double what the Koch brothers and their network spent in 2012.

Krumholz summed it up: "It is staggering."

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