Obama critic indicted for campaign-finance fraud, obstruction

posted at 8:41 am on January 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

This strange announcement came last night from the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. Author and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who produced the documentary 2016: Obama’s America that went after Barack Obama in the middle of the last election cycle, has been indicted for allegedly pushing $20,000 in straw-man contributions into a Senate race in New York that was hopeless from the start:

In 2012, the Election Act limited both primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 for a total of $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In August 2012, D’SOUZA directed other individuals with whom he was associated to make contributions to the campaign committee for a candidate for the United States Senate (the “Campaign Committee”) that totaled $20,000. D’SOUZA then reimbursed those individuals for the contributions. By directing the illegal contributions to be made, D’SOUZA also caused the Campaign Committee to falsely report to the FEC the sources and amounts of those contributions to the campaign.

D’SOUZA, 52, of San Diego, California, is charged with one count of causing $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to be made to a candidate for the United States Senate in calendar year 2012, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. He also is charged with one count of causing false statements to be made to the FEC in connection with the illegal campaign contributions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The Indictment is the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York. Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI.

A routine review, eh? At the very least, the report raises a few questions. The race, although not specified, appears to be the Senate election between Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long in New York, in which Long lost to Gillibrand by forty-five points (72% to 27%). Why would D’Souza try to push illegal contributions in the low five figures and risk criminal prosecution in a race where tens of millions of dollars were spent, and where the challenger was utterly doomed? For that matter, why use straw men when D’Souza could have just bundled for Long instead, or set up a PAC?

On the other hand, the response from D’Souza’s defense team sounds as if there’s something to explain:

But his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman. released a statement to reporters saying that D’Souza’s efforts to help a friend running for the Senate in 2012 was “at most” an “act of misguided friendship.”

“Mr. D’Souza did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever,” Brafman said in the statement. “He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and “at worst, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza. . .It is important to note that the indictment does not allege a corrupt relationship between Mr. D’Souza and the candidate.”

The indictment did not name the Senate candidate in the case. But it appears to be Wendy Long (R), who lost overwhelmingly in 2012 to incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat. Long raised less than $1 million for her long-shot campaign.

Campaign contribution limits are counterproductive and ultimately the cause of more corruption than they prevent. They should be eliminated, and replaced with full transparency on contributions that aggregate higher than $200 (the same limit as exists now) on campaign websites that will allow voters to see clearly who funds these campaigns. Until those laws change, though, we are bound to follow them. If D’Souza violated the law, then he’ll have to be held accountable … but it will be interesting to see in court how the feds “routinely” decided to look into his activities after producing 2016.

Ace counts this among quite a few “coincidences” involving critics of this administration.

Update: Via Instapundit, Ann Althouse expresses my thoughts on this succinctly:

I think it [the defense response] looks pretty much like a confession that D’Souza committed the criminal acts. What’s the defense? That he’s a good person who meant well and enjoyed camaraderie with the beneficiary of his illegal acts? I don’t think campaign finance laws work that way, but maybe I’m wrong. Personally, I avoid campaign finance because I think the law is set up to snag people on all sorts of weird details. I’m troubled by that, because it means that you can’t run for office unless you have plenty of legal advice, so how do you begin to run for office? It’s really oppressive. But if there’s going to be oppression like that, it can’t be an out that you didn’t mean to violate any law, can it?

I agree, if the investigations into the law don’t turn into selective prosecution for political purposes. How many of these cases involve Obama boosters rather than critics? How did prosecutors decide to look into D’Souza’s activities in the first place?

That is the real problem with creating these kind of Byzantine structures. It makes it easy to create criminals, and then those in power can use prosecutorial discretion to choose their targets. I don’t know that this is what happened here, but that’s the danger that this system of finance “reform” creates.

Update: Big thanks to the Drudge Report for the link — and they have another that reminds us the DoJ only charged a John Edwards donor with a misdemeanor for the same crime. That indictment came from the Bush administration in 2007, though, regarding the 2004 election.

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Damn. Dinesh is looking at a felony with a max of 7 years in prison and a million dollar fine? (For $20k contributed).

Makes you wonder how much time Corzine will get.

(What? He what? you gotta be kidding)

BigAlSouth on January 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Del Dolemonte on January 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Zero didn’t actually teach the constitution for ten years as he claimed. He was a periodic guest lecturer, and that HAD to be entertaining, considering how little he actually knows on any subject.

I doubt he could name the signers of either the Declaration or the Constitution.

dogsoldier on January 25, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2014 at 10:16 AM

IMHO Your use of Zero’s own words against them was brilliant.

Libs tend to wither when presented with facts, they then resort to personal attacks after losing the argument on the merits.

dogsoldier on January 25, 2014 at 10:20 AM

The main thing lost on our Trolls here isn’t that O’bama used EOs-it’s that prominent members of his own Democrat Party, the same ones who called the previous President a “criminal” for doing the exact same thing, are now actively encouraging him to nullify Congress. That is unconstitutional, and will be
until Bill Clinton is somehow unimpeached.

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM

No way Corzine is even going to serve hard time, or even giving any funds back, he is one of the Messiah’s brotheran. But poor Dinesh he told the truth and must pay. So that people know that if you don’t roll over you will pay. This is the same payback that S&P is getting for crossing Obama’s and Geithner’s red line he drew. Obama is quick to payback his domestic critics even if he doesn’t have the guts to back up his international red lines that he has drawn.

pwb on January 25, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Have the JustUs’ SS rounded up his family yet?

viking01 on January 25, 2014 at 12:56 PM

After the stimulus package I looked at the website with a map of all the businesses that received money. I wanted to see if it was truly helping my community. What caught my eye was a PR company in Korea town just outside of LA. They received $25 million dollars from the stimulus package. What I found odd was that they had 25 employees and did not hire anyone new. Their website showed one client, the Obama campaign from the previous year.

I guess each of the employees needed $250,000 a year to keep their job until the next election.

Why wasn’t the FBI looking for that?

dougless on January 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

$500,000 bail for $20,000 in campaign donations? Lol, were they afraid if let loose he might donate again?

What a joke.

mitchellvii on January 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

They will GET that man who made the video!!!

Fleuries on January 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Yes. There is quite a lot that our trolls don’t get.

mitchellvii on January 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Not to mention that it had no effect on the outcome. If it was deliberate give him a fine. I’m inclined to think it may have been an accident. 500k bail is ridiculous. Some murderers don’t get that.

dogsoldier on January 25, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Why wasn’t the FBI looking for that?

dougless on January 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Or Solyndra, Benghazi, the DoJ raiding reporters homes and wiretaping them, the EPA, IRS and on and on and on.

dogsoldier on January 25, 2014 at 2:22 PM

$500,000 bail for $20,000 in campaign donations? . . .

mitchellvii on January 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Got to send the proper message . . .

BigAlSouth on January 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM

When Nixon tried to do crap like this the Democrats wanted to impeach him, and the Republicans were willing to help them. Today, Obama is doing the same thing, only worse, and you cannot find a significant number of Republicans and absolutely zero Democrats willing to do anything about this abuse of power. Political corruption is destroying our country. Thomas Jefferson once said “When injustice becomes law, then rebellion becomes duty.” That time is upon us.

savage24 on January 26, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Is Dinesh D’Souza a Buddhist Monk? Aren’t Buddhist Monks exempt from campaign finance restrictions? Better check with Al Gore on that one.

Pole-Cat on January 26, 2014 at 7:29 PM

You really are too stupid to be any sort of “professor” – of anything.

Solaratov on January 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

This Taint is a “Professor?” Professor of Lesbian South Pacific Basketweaving is about all this Princess is qualified to teach.

RandallinHerndon on January 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

looks like it will be a guilty plea in any event.

Basilsbest on January 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Maybe “no contest?”

Christien on January 24, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Could he enter a plea of “Present?” Oh wait, no, Dinesh wasn’t voting in the Senate. My bad.

RandallinHerndon on January 27, 2014 at 10:41 AM

The Kock brothers should consider partnering up with Murdoch & go into the movie business & put some of these Socialist America destroying jerks out of business. Conservative views also need a voice & Hollywood is not providing it.

RdLake on January 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Isn’t a $500,00 bond a bit ridiculous? Obvious it is mostly political payback from you know who.

Amazingoly on January 27, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Isn’t a $500,00 [$500,000] bond a bit ridiculous? Obvious it is mostly political payback from you know who.

Amazingoly on January 27, 2014 at 1:25 PM

It is beyond ludicrous. The purpose of the bond is to guarantee against the risk of flight. This is a guy who plainly is not going anywhere. He has money and books in the works and his face is known throughout the world.

He should have been released on his own recognizance.

To you Democrats out there: Why doesn’t this scare the HELL out of you? What will it take for you to realize what is happening? A knock on your own door?

fadetogray on January 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Clearly what D’Souza should have done was obstruct the justice system as much as possible through non-cooperation, and let The Beib’s lawyer help him beat the rap.

The Schaef on January 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM