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.

Donald Trump's presidential fundraising produced its first strong numbers for a big-budget fall campaign last month, but the financial powerhouse backing Hillary Clinton continued to hold a strong lead.

Team Clinton outraised Team Trump $146.3 million to $81.1 million. Cash-on-hand totals were also lopsided: $139.2 million to $61.4 million. These totals include activity by the candidate committees, national party committees, joint fundraising committees and supporting superPACs.

The mandatory monthly reports were filed last night at the Federal Election Commission.

Mike Pence, newly chosen as Donald Trump's running mate, has a strong following among social conservatives for his stands on Planned Parenthood, gay marriage and other hot-button issues.

Less noticed are his ties to low-taxes, small-government conservatives. Pence has well-established connections to the politically powerful armada of tax-exempt groups led by the billionaires David and Charles Koch.

Donald Trump predicted his June fundraising would look good – especially compared to an anemic May, which he finished with just $1.3 million on hand. And June is looking better, bolstered by the first disclosure filings Friday night from two new joint fundraising committees.

Trump Victory reported raising $25.7 million between late May and June 30, but it transferred just $2.2 million to Trump's campaign committee and about $10 million to the RNC.

Foreign money in American politics. The phrase suggests secret payments, maybe briefcases stuffed with cash, or dinners of fine food and oblique conversation.

Or spam.

"Mr. Speaker, members of Parliament are being bombarded with electronic communications from Team Trump, on behalf of somebody called Donald Trump."

Sir Roger Gale, MP, was among the hundreds of legislators, from the United Kingdom to Iceland to Australia, whose inboxes had received unwanted fundraising emails from the Trump campaign.

Presidential nominees choose vice presidential running mates for what they add to the ticket, whether it be experience or the capacity to draw votes. Here's what Mike Pence might subtract from this fall's Republican ticket with Donald Trump: an unknowable amount of campaign cash from the financial services industry.

As he has gone about reinventing presidential campaigns, Donald Trump has offered many ideas about how to finance his operation. Sometimes those ideas contradict one another. This timeline traces Trump's journey through the confusing world of campaign finance. A few things to note:

Donald Trump's fundraising operation kicked into gear last month and raised about $51 million, the campaign says in a press release. But the release offered a less than complete picture of the financial structure meant to propel the real estate developer and reality TV star to the White House.

Three-year-old allegations of political influence at the Internal Revenue Service are being revived as two House committees move toward punishing the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen.

The House Oversight Committee this week voted on party lines to censure Koskinen. The House Judiciary Committee holds its second hearing next week on whether to impeach him.

"This all started with the IRS using its authorities to target certain conservative groups for their beliefs," Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in prepared testimony to the Judiciary panel.

As Donald Trump prepares to accept the Republican nomination, just over eight weeks away, he's let it be known he thinks the nominating conventions are boring.

He's right. Every nominee since 1980 has been known before the opening gavel. Floor fights are nearly extinct. The TV audience is dwindling.

Trump wants a flashier GOP convention. But the event already has its own controversy, because of the nominee himself.

It's about money.

After months of bashing the Republican National Committee and big fundraisers, Donald Trump is getting on board.

"These are highly sophisticated killers, and when they give $5 million, or $2 million or $1 million to Jeb [Bush], they have him just like a puppet," Trump said at the Iowa State Fair last year. "He'll do whatever they want. He is their puppet."

But now the de facto GOP nominee has inked two joint fundraising agreements with the RNC and 11 state parties on Tuesday to start taking in enormous checks from big donors.

Contested primaries in both political parties have led to another cycle of record political ad spending, according to a new analysis of campaign advertising by the Wesleyan Media Project.

The analysis, which covers ads from Jan. 1, 2015, through May 8, 2016, tallies $408 million in ad spending compared to $120 million in 2012 when President Obama sought re-election.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET with details:

With Bernie Sanders lopping hundreds of staffers from his campaign this week, it's easy to forget he has outraised and outspent Hillary Clinton every month this year. And not by just a little.

Organizing for Action, the grass-roots network born from the Obama campaigns, is now deep in the battle over confirming the president's nominee to the Supreme Court. These days, OFA is a nonprofit that organizes on progressive issues and trains future grass-roots gurus.

"You know this is very much an organization that is led by people out in their communities who care about the issues of the day," said Buffy Wicks, a member of OFA's board of advisers and a veteran of Obama's two presidential campaigns and his White House.

Police needed most of Monday afternoon to arrest all of the sit-down protesters outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington at a demonstration in favor of changing the rules on political money, voting rights and redistricting.

The politicians who would be president have a lot to say about money, at least when they're soliciting it.

They and their sidekick superPACs have raised a combined total of around $1 billion, according to NPR calculations from data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

It was raining lightly when marchers of the Democracy Spring coalition set out Saturday, trudging past Independence Hall in Philadelphia on their way south toward Washington, D.C.

"I came on the train. Two days. Slept in the train station last night," Miram Kashia said, laughing. A self-proclaimed climate action warrior, she traveled from North Liberty, Iowa. She blamed political money's influence for blocking action on the climate, and added, "I'm retired but it's a full time job for me, being an activist."

It's never clear what the truth is when a campaign ends, but it gets ugly.

Major fundraisers are among the people who are key in creating a campaign. And when campaigns fold, they talk sometimes — usually in blind quotes.

But one of the funders, who helped raise millions of dollars for a superPAC supporting Jeb Bush, talked on the record with NPR's Morning Edition -- and gave his version of what he felt went wrong.

The TV ad campaign for Republican Jeb Bush is faltering in South Carolina, where GOP voters go to the polls Saturday.

A new report by the Wesleyan Media Project finds that the pro-Bush superPAC, Right To Rise USA, aired an estimated 2,664 ads in the state between Feb. 1 and Feb. 14. At the same time, Sen. Ted Cruz's organization — his campaign and two superPACs — ran 4,904 ads. Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign and superPAC aired 3,882 ads.

Hillary Clinton's superPAC seemed to be essentially sitting out the primary, saving its war chest to fight Republicans in the general election. Now that's changed.

In the 10 days since Bernie Sanders thumped Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the pro-Clinton superPAC Priorities USA Action has spent $1.3 million on her behalf.

Here's a question for New Hampshire voters. Would you have voted for Jeb Bush if he'd given you $1,086?

Bush didn't offer that, obviously. But that's the amount his campaign and superPAC spent on TV ads in New Hampshire for each vote Bush received in the primary on Tuesday.

The Takeaways:

  • Republican candidates raised more than $227 million in 2015, less than the GOP field raised in 2011.
  • The year-end reports include the first disclosure of big money from Donald Trump and reveal the precarious state of Jeb Bush's White House bid.
  • Some wealthy conservative donors, including Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, haven't put their money behind any GOP candidate yet. Big donors on the Democratic side are behind Hillary Clinton.

Update at at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday: Sen. Ted Cruz gave the Federal Election Commission an accounting of his campaign loans Thursday evening. The Cruz for Senate treasurer acknowledged in a letter that Cruz's loans to the campaign were underwritten by a margin loan from Goldman Sachs, where his wife is a managing director, and a line of credit from Citibank.

When this presidential campaign got underway last spring, the buzz was that a candidate would be propelled by passing off the heavy costs of TV advertising to a friendly superPAC. But now the opposite is true.

Donald Trump, leading the Republican field, has no superPAC. Some other superPACs are pouring cash into TV, but their candidates are stuck low in the polls.

Trump just recently started buying TV time, after months of depending on news coverage to promote his campaign.

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton attended her first event for an organization called the Hillary Victory Fund. About 160 guests attended, and the event grossed more than $5 million.

The Hillary Victory Fund is a joint fundraising committee for Hillary for America, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic committees of 32 states and Puerto Rico.

It's a fair bet that in 1934, five years into the Great Depression and a year into the New Deal, Congress wasn't thinking about a political future that would be rife with secretly financed political groups.

Even as negotiators struggled this week at the Paris summit on climate change, Senate Republicans held a subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill to challenge the underlying science. They called it "Data or Dogma?"

An alliance of anti-establishment Republicans and Democrats in Congress is seeking to hold down at least one kind of political spending.

Hard-line conservatives say GOP leaders want to undermine Tea Party-style newcomers who challenge the Washington establishment. Progressives see their own leaders ready to write off a long-standing provision of campaign finance law, and permit big donors' money to flow more freely.

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