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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.

As relentlessly as the candidates have courted voters, they've also shown their love to donors.

A report by the Center for Responsive Politics places the total cost of the 2012 elections at an estimated $6 billion, which would make it the most expensive election in U.S. history

If you're using social media to follow the presidential campaign or even if you're related to someone else who's doing that, there's a good chance your cellphone got spammed Tuesday night with an anti-Obama text message.

The messages went out between 7:30 and 10 p.m. They were anonymous but quickly traced to a Republican consulting firm in Northern Virginia.

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Since April, most of the TV ads supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have come from outside groups, not from Romney's own campaign. And those groups raised more than half of their money from secret donors, according to a six-month study of ads.

Since April, more than 825,000 presidential campaign ads have been broadcast in the battleground states. Oddly, the dominant Republican voice on TV hasn't been that of nominee Mitt Romney. The big advertisers are four heavily funded SuperPacs and tax-exempt groups.

Republican Mitt Romney started his campaign calling for big tax cuts, but now he has changed course. He's warning middle-class families not to raise their hopes too high.

Romney couldn't have been more emphatic than he was last November at a candidates' debate in Michigan.

"What I want to do is help the people who've been hurt the most, and that's the middle class," he said. "And so what I do is focus a substantial tax break on middle-income Americans."

A new analysis shows that the Obama campaign continues to have superiority over the Romney campaign and its allies when it comes to TV ads. The report also finds that political ads are the most negative since 2000, and that the leading advertiser in congressional races is Karl Rove's tax-exempt group Crossroads GPS.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Congressional Democrats are looking into allegations that a Republican consulting firm committed voter registration fraud. The head of the company is an Arizona operative with a reputation for aggressive tactics, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are spending a lot of time in Ohio this week. The battleground state is being pounded with TV ads. Many of the pro-Romney spots come from the outside groups that sprang up after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. But that decision isn't just benefiting conservative causes.

NPR's Peter Overby reports from Ohio on what Citizens United has done for organized labor.

Fundraising reports filed last night by the presidential campaigns show President Obama with a slight advantage in fundraising last month, while Republican Mitt Romney has the edge by some other measures.

Each candidate is raising money for his own campaign committee, plus his national party committee and a joint fundraising committee or two.

So what you see depends on what you look at.

In cash on hand, the overall Romney organization finished August with more than $168 million — that's $43 million more than the overall Obama organization.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Fundraising reports filed last night by the presidential campaigns look like recent public opinion polls - they show President Obama with a narrow advantage in monthly fundraising last month, although Republican Mitt Romney has the edge by some other measures.

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From the race for president, now to Congress. It's caught in a serious time crunch, not to finish its legislative business, though it hasn't done much of that this year. No, the real squeeze is in the campaign fundraising. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, lawmakers are trying to fill up lobbyists' schedules with events hoping to extract a few more dollars for their re-election bids.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. The news today wasn't all bad for Mitt Romney and his team. A panel of three federal appeals judges reversed a lower court decision, one that would have required more disclosure of big political donors. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, that threat of disclosure was troubling to pro-Romney outside groups which have far outspent the Romney campaign on television.

It's become conventional wisdom that President Obama's new lead in the polls is a bounce, coming out of the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But an analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project suggests that the bounce might be due to TV ads as much as grand speeches. The Obama campaign and its allies laid out $21.1 million for TV during the two weeks of the party conventions. Over that same stretch, Republican Mitt Romney and his backers spent significantly less, $12.9 million.

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Relentless fundraising efforts paid off last month for President Obama and Mitt Romney. Their campaign said today they each took in more than $110 million.

NPR's Peter Overby has details.

Now that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in charge of raising really big dollars for a superPAC that supports President Obama, wealthy Democrats all over the country may be eyeing their phones nervously.

Emanuel, the former Obama White House chief of staff, is known for not taking no for an answer and for aggressively going after what he wants.

Indeed, he's a ferocious fundraiser who gets to the point, often throwing in an epithet or two for emphasis, just the sort of rainmaker needed by Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama superPAC that desperately needs cash.

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