Peter Overby, NPR

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.

Politics
4:48 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Supreme Court Takes Case That Could Puncture A Key Campaign Cash Limit

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to campaign-finance laws that could open the door to further money in politics beyond what Citizens United achieved.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 5:48 pm

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

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2012 Presidential Election
8:09 am
Mon November 12, 2012

With Millions Spent, GOP 'Investors' Saw Little Return Election Night

A supporter of President Barack Obama raises his arms as it is announced that Obama was re-elected during an election night watch party in Chicago.
Jerome Delay AP

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 4:39 am

A "return on investment" is a concept better known to Wall Street than to Washington. But after President Obama and the Democrats won most of the close elections last week there are questions about the seven- and eight-figure "investments" made by dozens of conservative donors.

During the election season, it was pretty common to hear about donors making "investments" in superPACs and other outside groups, rather than a "political contribution," perhaps because the phrase has a sort of taint to it.

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2012 Presidential Election
8:09 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Do Campaign Ads Seem More Negative? It's Not Just You

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:43 am

If you thought the presidential primaries were extraordinarily negative, now there's statistical evidence that you were right.

A new analysis of TV ads finds that 70 percent of the messages were negative — a trend spearheaded by the heavily financed superPACs supporting the candidates. At this point in the 2008 election, 91 percent of TV ads were positive.

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2012 Presidential Election
9:53 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Revisiting Newt Gingrich's 1997 Ethics Investigation

Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich holds court at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., March 11, 1995 after teaching his final class at the school. The 10-week course was criticized as a partisan forum for Gingrich and became part of a House ethics investigation against him.
Erik S. Lesser ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 3:00 am

Even as Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich is riding high in the polls this week, he's been dragged back into a debate over a problematic part of his past. In 1997, he was the first speaker of the House, ever, to be punished by the House for ethics violations.

With "Renewing American Civilization," history-professor-turned-politician Newt Gingrich had a college course — a program that was supposed to be insulated from partisan politics and campaign cash.

The litany he used in the classroom sounds much like one he uses today.

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2012 Presidential Election
3:41 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Perry Donor's Radioactive Waste Site Deal Scrutinized

A large earth-mover carries PCB-contaminated soil from the Hudson River in New York to a burial pit at Waste Control Specialists near Andrews, Texas, in October 2009.
Betsy Blaney AP

Originally published on Thu September 15, 2011 8:39 pm

Presidential candidate Rick Perry's ties to campaign donors came under more scrutiny this week when he was challenged during Monday's Tea Party debate.

Perry defended taking a contribution from a drug company and then mandating use of the company's new vaccine. "I raised about $30 million, and if you're saying I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended," he said.

Actually, the drug company, Merck, has given Perry $28,500 overall. But that's still pocket change compared with what Perry's truly big donors have given.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:19 am
Wed September 14, 2011

Perry Got Much More Merck Money Than He Let On

Originally published on Tue September 13, 2011 5:17 pm

Political contributions from drug maker Merck to Texas Gov. Rick Perry are substantially higher than he said at Monday night's CNN/Tea Party Express debate.

Perry low-balled the number, saying the contribution was just $5,000. But since 2001. Merck has given Perry a total of $28,500.

In the debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann accused Perry of mandating a statewide innoculation program using the Merck-made vaccine Gardasil after the pharmaceutical giant gave money for his 2006 campaign.

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