Peter Overby

Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.

Overby has covered scandals involving House Speaker Newt Gingrich, President Bill Clinton, lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others. He tracked the rise of campaign finance regulation as Congress passed campaign finance reform laws, and the rise of deregulation as Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions rolled those laws back.

During President Trump's first year in office, Overby was on a team of NPR journalists covering conflicts of interest sparked by the Trump family business. He did some of the early investigations of dark money, dissecting a money network that influenced a Michigan judicial election in 2013, and — working with the Center for Investigative Reporting — surfacing below-the-radar attack groups in the 2008 presidential election.

In 2009, Overby co-reported Dollar Politics, a multimedia series on lawmakers, lobbyists and money as the Senate debated the Affordable Care Act. The series received an award for excellence from the Capitol Hill-based Radio and Television Correspondents Association. Earlier, he won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for his coverage of the 2000 elections and 2001 Senate debate on campaign finance reform.

Prior to NPR, Overby was an editor/reporter for Common Cause Magazine, where he shared an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. He worked on daily newspapers for 10 years, and has freelanced for publications ranging from Utne Reader and the Congressional Quarterly Guide To Congress to the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Digital advertising is gaining ground as the medium of choice for political candidates. And now campaigns are making ads that don't just beam messages out. They bring money in. It's all about small donors, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia want the legal authority to get any communications between President Trump and officials of foreign or U.S. state governments pertaining to his Trump International Hotel near the White House.

The proposal is one of several for "document discovery" in the historic civil suit against the president. As plaintiffs, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh can seek documents to bolster their complaints. They made their proposals Friday in a filing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md.

John McCain devoted much of his career in the Senate to controlling the influence of money in public life — in part to try to recover from his own role in a big congressional influence scandal.

McCain, who died Saturday of brain cancer, made money and influence big themes of his first presidential race.

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET

Fox & Friends was the natural venue for President Trump to strike back against Michael Cohen. The former self-described "fixer" for Trump had said under oath, before a federal judge, that he and Trump had violated the campaign finance law together.

The problem was the hush payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels. During the campaign, each had taken a six-figure payment that kept their claimed affairs with Trump out of the public eye.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife have been indicted on charges of diverting campaign money to pay for personal and family expenses.

Updated at 1:23 p.m. ET

At Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders misleadingly asserted that the Trump administration's use of nondisclosure agreements both during and after government employment was very common.

"Despite contrary opinion, it's actually very normal. And every administration prior to the Trump administration has had NDAs, particularly specific for anyone that had a security clearance." said Sanders.

As a federal appellate judge for the past dozen years, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has played a central role in building the nation's system of campaign finance laws.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

In a blow to President Trump, a federal judge says a lawsuit that alleges Trump's business interests violate the Constitution can proceed.

Federal District Judge Peter Messitte denied the Department of Justice's request to dismiss a case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The Emoluments Clause bars any president from personally profiting from his dealings with foreign governments — or even U.S. state governments.

As nonprofit advocacy groups plunge into a high-priced fight over confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, they will no longer have to identify their biggest donors to the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS announced the rules change Monday evening. Earlier that day, Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's cryptocurrency-financed effort to disrupt the 2016 presidential race, and the FBI arrested a Russian national who allegedly used the NRA to build ties among conservatives and Republicans.

As the midterm elections get more heated, passionate grassroots donors are opening their wallets to Democrats campaigning against President Trump and the GOP in their quest to take the House.

By the time Scott Pruitt resigned, his conduct as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had become the subject of 12 to 18 investigations, audits and inquiries. It's hard to know the precise number, as only some of the cases are public, but Pruitt may have set some kind of ethics-in-government record.

Ethics advocates are asking how he stayed long enough to trigger that many probes.

President Trump hasn't yet nominated a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, but the fight over confirming that nominee began the day Kennedy gave notice.

When it comes to transparency for political money — who gave, how much, how it was spent — there are three buckets: fully disclosed, partly disclosed and not disclosed at all.

Long-standing law requires candidate campaigns and party committees to report their finances regularly. But among outside groups — political action committees, superPACs and nonprofit groups — nearly half the money spent so far in the midterm elections was either never disclosed or only partially disclosed.

Here's what's going on.

A new trend since 2016

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Pages