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.

Pages

Politics
4:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

IRS Targets Money Transfers In Social-Welfare Politicking

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:05 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The IRS is taking aim at the growing political role of tax-exempt social welfare groups. It's a category of American politics where spending has increased 80-fold in the last decade. Donors can give as much money as they want to these groups, and their names are not disclosed to the public. The IRS wants to roll back the social welfare politicking, after a summer of controversy over the way it treated Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:48 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Court Upholds Public Broadcasting Political Ad Ban

This image, provided by the Obama For America campaign, shows a still frame made from a video ad entitled "Only Choice."
Uncredited AP

While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the rules affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.

The 8-3 decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.

Read more
Politics
4:33 am
Fri November 22, 2013

FEC: Tea Party May Not Shield Donors

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 5:45 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. The Federal Election Commission has turned back a bid by conservatives to weaken the federal campaign-finance disclosure law. A Tea Party group had asked for a precedent-changing decision to keep its donor lists secret. It said Tea Party members are being targeted for harassment and intimidation. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:57 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

What A Bitcoin Political Debut Could Mean For Transparency

Bitcoins have gone from an Internet oddity to much more. The FEC is now considering allowing the virtual currency to fund some political campaigns.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:28 pm

Bitcoin, the virtual currency that exists as alphanumeric strings online, is on the verge of getting into politics.

The Federal Election Commission is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to allow bitcoin contributions to political action committees — even as skeptics say that bitcoins could undermine the disclosure standards of federal law.

Read more
Politics
5:45 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Contractors Lobby For Alternatives To Military Cuts

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:53 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Congress and the Pentagon are facing an important deadline. In just under two months, the second wave of congressionally mandated sequestration - budget cuts - will kicked in, and Pentagon spending is scheduled to be slashed by $20 billion. Military contractors say that it would be catastrophic, and they're lobbying hard to make those cuts fall somewhere else, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:42 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Obama Donor Behind Third-Party Va. Candidate? Maybe Not

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, speaks with the news media after casting his ballot in Nokesville, Va., on Tuesday.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:42 pm

This week's hot rumor in Virginia: Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis was a spoiler, bankrolled by an Obama bundler from Texas, to undercut Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

On Election Day, Sarvis captured nearly 7 percent of the vote in a race Cuccinelli lost by less than 3 percentage points to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Read more
Politics
4:47 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Outside Money Plays Big Role In Va. Race For Governor

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 10:17 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Two of the big winners in Virginia's elections this week were not on the ballot. They actually aren't even Virginians. They are two men who spent more than $2 million each to help elect Democrat Terry McAuliffe as governor.

NPR's Peter Overby reports on the Election Day impact of San Francisco environmentalist Tom Steyer and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Read more
NPR News Investigations
5:26 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Secret Persuasion: How Big Campaign Donors Stay Anonymous

A composite image shows part of the NPR/Center for Responsive Politics reporting team's whiteboard at NPR headquarters that was used to map out how Wellspring connects to other social welfare groups. (Click the enlarge button to see a full-size image.)
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 4:48 pm

Part two of our "Secret Persuasion" story reported with the Center for Responsive Politics. Read the first part here.

As tax-exempt organizations become a vehicle of choice for big political donors, one powerful appeal is the anonymity. Federal laws allow tax-exempt groups — unlike political committees — to withhold their donor lists from disclosure.

Read more
NPR News Investigations
5:20 am
Tue November 5, 2013

From Social Welfare Groups, A River Of Political Influence

The Au Sable River in Michigan is a popular place for fly fishermen and the heart of a debate unexpectedly influenced by largely invisible social welfare organizations.
Christine Arrasmith NPR

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 11:38 am

Part one of the two-part "Secret Persuasion" investigation, reported with the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bruce Pregler walks down the slope from his cabin, eases into the Au Sable River and casts his line; fishing takes his thoughts away from his downstate law practice.

Read more
NPR Story
4:17 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Outside Political Money Floods Virginia Races

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 6:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Virginia holds elections next month for state offices, including governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. But what was historically a pretty sedate affair is, this year, drawing millions of dollars from all over the country.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more
Politics
5:39 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Money For Dam Project In Shutdown Deal Riles Conservatives

The Olmsted Locks and Dam project is under construction on the Ohio River between Illinois and Kentucky.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:09 pm

This week's congressional compromise to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling had a few other provisions as well.

One of them allows additional spending on a lock and dam project on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois.

Read more
The Government Shutdown
5:57 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Why A Medical Device Tax Became Part Of The Fiscal Fight

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 6:12 pm

Among the bargaining chips in the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, there's the small but persistent issue of taxing medical device manufacturers.

The 2.3 percent sales tax covers everything from MRI machines to replacement hips and maybe even surgical gloves. The tax was imposed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. It didn't attract much attention at first — at least, not outside the world of medical device manufacturers.

But they have waged a persistent campaign to undo the tax, and right now is the closest they have come to succeeding.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:25 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Koch Industries Pushes Back Against Harry Reid

David Koch addresses attendees of the Defending the American Dream Summit in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 30.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 2:26 pm

Most business interests would do anything to avoid a public fight with the most powerful man in the Senate.

Not Koch Industries.

The privately owned conglomerate of conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch is busy trading volleys with Majority Leader Harry Reid in the battle over the Affordable Care Act and the government shutdown.

What's unusual here is the word trading. It wasn't so many years ago that the Koch brothers and their company would have said nothing, just absorbed political slams without comment.

Read more
Politics
5:55 am
Sat May 25, 2013

IRS Hearings Highlight Ambiguity Of Nonprofits In Politics

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 1:19 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. In the two weeks since the Internal Revenue Service scandal erupted, the acting commissioner has been ousted, the head of the relevant section has been put on administrative leave. The Justice Department has begun investigating the scrutiny given to conservative groups that sought tax exempt status and three congressional committees have held hearings bombarding IRS officials with questions.

Read more
Politics
4:38 am
Thu May 23, 2013

IRS Official's Silence Riles House Committee Members

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The IRS has admitted to targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status. And yesterday at a House hearing the IRS director of exempt organizations said, quote: "I have not done anything wrong." She then declined to testify. Lois Lerner's brief appearance at the committee was just the beginning of a stormy, five-hour session filled with angry outbursts and allegations of political motives.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Lois Lerner did read a statement that she had done her job properly.

Read more
Politics
8:26 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Battle Lines Harden In Debate Over Blame For IRS Controversy

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 9:29 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Lawmakers are demanding to know what went wrong and who is to blame at the IRS. Two Senate committees held hearings yesterday on the agency's aggressive handling of applications from conservative groups who were seeking tax-exemption. A top IRS official facing a House committee, today, intends to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:01 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Some Lawmakers Want Big-Budget Groups Included In IRS Debate

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 7:24 pm

Read more
Politics
4:21 am
Mon May 13, 2013

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:24 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Why Lobbying Is Now Increasingly In The Shadows

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

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

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:36 am
Fri April 26, 2013

FEC: DOMA Limits Political Donations By Gay Married Couples

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

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

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.

Read more

Pages