Peter Overby | WGLT

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.

How is Washington spending tax dollars that might benefit President Trump? Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want to count the ways.

The committee's 18 minority members sent letters on Tuesday to the 15 cabinet departments and nine independent executive branch agencies, requesting documents on their spending at "businesses owned by or affiliated with the Trump Organization."

They said the letters are the first step in an investigation of federal spending involving Trump companies.

As Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller investigates alleged Russian ties to the Trump presidential campaign, the White House and some Republicans in Congress are calling for a second investigation.

The proposed target is a retired woman living in a small town in New York's Hudson Valley: Hillary Clinton.

When presidential adviser Jared Kushner appeared last week in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the focus was on his contacts with Russia representatives during the 2016 campaign.

Some critics say questions about Russian contacts are so serious that Kushner should lose his White House security clearance. But few are expecting he will get fired. He is, after all, married to the president's daughter.

President Trump lives in the White House, but he also spends weekends at his other residences in New York's Trump Tower and Florida's Mar-A-Lago resort. Taxpayers cover the security costs for his use of those private locations.

Now there will be yet another part-time residence covered by federal funds for security. Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican, announced Wednesday that the small town of Bedminster — population 9,000 — has been designated a priority for the Secret Service.

Job growth seems to be strong in one of Washington's specialized professions: defense attorneys for the White House. Investigations by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and several congressional committees are driving the demand.

One question is this: Who is paying for all those lawyers?

Those who have recently lawyered up include President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Vice President Pence.

Last week sparked a deluge of speculation about Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 encounter with a Russian lawyer, and what criminal charges — if any — might ensue.

But for a substantive answer, NPR asked a former federal prosecutor. Randall Eliason worked public corruption and government fraud cases; now he teaches law and writes the blog Sidebars, "a reflection on white collar crime and federal criminal law."

When Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer last June, did he break any U.S. laws?

Walter Shaub Jr., outgoing director of the Office of Government Ethics, says there's a new normal for ethics in the Trump administration.

"Even when we're not talking strictly about violations, we're talking about abandoning the norms and ethical traditions of the executive branch that have made our ethics program the gold standard in the world until now," Shaub told All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub Jr. is turning in his resignation on Thursday.

The move follows months of clashes with the White House over issues such as President Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees.

Shaub, an attorney, has accepted a job with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization of election-law experts.

President Trump, who is fond of dining at his Trump International Hotel near the White House, will have some company Wednesday — a roomful of people who paid as much as $35,000 or $100,000 each to be there.

The money will go to two joint fundraising operations — Trump Victory, which will take in large donations and Trump Make America Great Again Committee for smaller-dollar donors.

When Trump Victory started sending out invitations four weeks ago, it announced the price points, but kept the venue secret until a prospect had RSVP'd.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want to see White House records on the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his security clearance and his access to classified information.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the oversight panel's 18 Democrats question why Kushner's security clearance hasn't been revoked.

President Trump has updated his personal financial disclosure report from last year, and here NPR updates our December 2016 analysis of that earlier report.

The White House on Wednesday night released 14 ethics waivers — documents that exempt some top presidential aides from important ethics rules.

The disclosures came after a quiet but tough battle between Trump administration officials and the Office of Government Ethics.

The waivers are considered public documents, but for weeks after President Trump took office, they weren't made public.

In April, the Office of Government Ethics began to push the issue.

The Trump administration agreed late Friday to disclose records regarding former lobbyists it has hired, and the ethics rules it has waived for them. The move defuses a brewing conflict between the White House and one of Washington's smallest agencies, the tiny, 71-worker Office of Government Ethics.

Updated at 10:08 p.m. ET.

The Office of Government Ethics has rejected a White House attempt to block the agency's compilation of federal ethics rules waivers granted to officials hired into the Trump administration from corporations and lobbying firms.

Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET

Donald Trump hadn't yet taken his oath as president when, last Dec. 21, he named Carl Icahn as "special adviser to the president on regulatory reform." He said Icahn would help him deal with "the strangling regulations that our country is faced with."

When the Senate was preparing to confirm President Trump's Cabinet and other top officials, the nominees negotiated ethics agreements, promising to rearrange their financial lives to avoid conflicts of interest.

Now the Office of Government Ethics wants to know if they kept their word.

OGE is requiring the Cabinet secretaries and other Senate-confirmed officials to fill out a new Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance. NPR obtained a copy of the form before its release Thursday.

When President Trump recently invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House, it reopened questions about conflicts of interest between U.S. foreign policy and Trump's business interests.

The two presidents are connected by a Filipino businessman. Duterte last fall named Jose E.B. Antonio as special trade envoy to the United States. Antonio is also in business with Trump, building a 57-story, Trump-branded residential tower in Manila.

As Trump appointees take their new positions in the federal bureaucracy, a legal battle is escalating over alleged intimidation of the civil servants who make the government function.

President Trump's campaign rallies were defined by three slogans, three syllables each, which the candidate led the crowd in chanting: "Build the wall," condemning illegal immigration; "Lock her up," attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton; and "Drain the swamp," all about cleaning up Washington.

Donald Trump won the presidency back in November, but for many liberal organizations, the battle continues. A loose network of lawyers and watchdogs has dug in to scrutinize issues involving the Trump administration's ethics and transparency.

Key topics include: the conflicts between Trump's business interests and his presidential duties; the constitutional questions raised by his foreign profits; and the performance of his appointees, many of whom now run agencies overseeing the industries they themselves came from.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

A group of liberal lawyers is suing the Justice Department and FBI over President Trump's tweeted allegation of wiretapping ordered by then-President Barack Obama.

American Oversight is demanding records that support or disprove Trump's March 4 tweet, "Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower."

All presidents since Gerald Ford have volunteered to show the public their tax returns. All of them except Donald Trump.

He has said emphatically that he really wants to do it, including at a Republican primary debate in February 2016.

"Let me just tell you something. I want to release my tax returns. But I can't release it while I'm under an audit. We're under a routine audit. I've had it for years I get audited. And obviously if I'm being audited I'm not going to release a return. As soon as the audit is done — I love it."

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Federal records indicate that a key adviser to President Trump held substantial investments in 18 companies when he joined Trump in meetings with their CEOs.

The investments of Christopher Liddell, the president's director of strategic initiatives, totaled between $3 million and $4 million. Among the companies in Liddell's portfolio, and whose CEOs were in the meetings: Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart.

House Democrats are pursuing a strategy to force Republicans to take repeated votes on whether to investigate President Trump's ethics and alleged ties to Russia.

The Democrats failed Tuesday evening as the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee rejected such an investigation. A party-line vote ended a long day of wrangling, barely two hours before the president took the rostrum in the House chamber for his address to Congress.

On Monday, the Senate will vote on Wilbur Ross' nomination as the U.S. commerce secretary. As required by the Ethics in Government Act, the billionaire businessman has reached an agreement with the Office of Government Ethics to sell off most of his holdings.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president in November, questions have been raised about the lease he signed to operate a luxury hotel in the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The lease specifically says the lease holder cannot be a federal elected official. So critics repeatedly have called upon the federal General Services Administration to enforce its agreement, and make President Trump walk away from his deal to run the Trump International Hotel.

Updated 8:45 p.m. ET

South Dakota's citizen-led experiment to "drain the swamp" of political corruption appears to have lasted less than three months.

Lawmakers in the state Senate voted 27-8 Wednesday to repeal the voter-approved initiative and send the measure to the governor. The legislation was given emergency status so it would take effect immediately when the governor applies his signature — which he said he expects to do.

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