His lawyer in a statement insists it’s “at worst, this was an act of misguided friendship,” but in yet another fall from grace, conservative author D’Souza has been indicted on federal charges of violating campaign finance laws by using straw donors to funnel money to a U.S. Senate candidate.
It’s just the latest in a series of problems that pitchforked the once rising start of conservative commentary into unwanted headlines. And, in the way 21st century works, already (before 48 hours has passed) it’s already being suggested that all of this is political. Could we have expected anything less? (Here come the emails now suggesting TMV is funded by George Soros.)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the grand jury charges in a statement Thursday.
D’Souza is expected to be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
D’Souza, who has written over a dozen books imparting his provocative views on religion and politics, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. But his attorney, 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.
Those who might not follow politics need to know this: at one point D’Souza was on a path to become one of the county’s top conservative commentators: he had books that sold briskly to Republicans, he was was on TV, and even produced an anti-Obama movie, the highly partisan “2016: Obama’s America,” the second-highest grossing political documentary of all time. Which is why it’s now suggested that it MUST be Barack Obama or someone on the Democratic side pressing this.
D’Souza, whose books include “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” went to Dartmouth College with Long and his name was listed on an invitation as co-hosting a fundraiser for Long during the campaign. Long, a former clerk to Supremc Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and D’Souza worked together on the Dartmouth Review, famous for its outspoken take on social and political topics.
The indictment was the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“This office and the FBI take a zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “If, as alleged, the defendant directed others to make contributions to a Senate campaign and reimbursed them, that is a serious violation of federal campaign finance laws.”
D’Souza, who now lives in San Diego, has long been a lightning rod for controversy. In his 2010 book on Obama, he theorizes that Obama is motivated largely by the “inherited rage” of his absent Kenyan father.
D’Souza was one of several conservative commentators that Democrats and some pundits say uses a “dog whistle” to raise the issue of race when it comes to Obama, although those accused of doing it always deny it. In November he called Obama a “grown-up Trayvon Martin,” but defended it later pointing to Obama’s own comments related to the teen shot dead by George Zimmerman. In October 2012 he resigned his position as President of King’s College, a small evangelical school in Manhattan, amid a scandal involving his engagement to a woman who was much younger than him and general dissatisfaction over his performance as President.
SOME OTHER REACTION:
Do you know how hard it is, in the era of Citizens United, to violate federal campaign finance laws unless you do something really stupid? Or to put it another way: do you know how many entirely legal ways there are to get around the $2500 per candidate (per contest) contributions limit? Believe me, there’s lot of them.
That’s what makes it so remarkable that right-wing controversialist Dinesh D’Souza, best known as a racial provocateur, has managed to get himself indicted for enabling “straw” contributions, via (yes) his estranged wife and his girlfriend, to a federal candidate, presumably his friend and former Dartmouth Review colleague Wendy Long. That means D’Souza allegedly got these women to contribute to Long by promising to reimburse them.
…Sometimes people like D’Souza are very careful to avoid doing anything that could lead to abandonment by friends, gloating schadenfreude among enemies, and greater notoriety generally. And sometimes their luck in getting away with and even being rewarded for outrages suspends their instincts for self-preservation altogether. That seems to be the case here. And even if he avoids jail, his ability to command big money is probably gone for good. Who wants to invest in a guy who can’t find a way around campaign finance laws?
D’Souza came out with the movie “2016: Obama’s America” a couple of years ago. I think I was on Twitter and someone sent the YouTube link with the exhortation, “Watch this before they take it down!” And I did. The whole thing was uploaded! And then just like that, as soon as I’d seen it, the clip was pulled. Heh. I thought it was great. William Jacobson was a little harsh in his analysis, “Legal Insurrection 2016.” But D’Souza pegged Obama pretty good. Perhaps that’s why he’s going down now.
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.
The Obama obsessed Dinesh D’Souza, a leading conservative, has been indicted by the Justice Department for manufacturing people by which he could funnel money into a Republican campaign in order to beat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Besides being illegal, Dinesh D’Souza’s efforts failed miserably…Creating straw donations outside the law reveals the lengths right-wing conservatives will go to in order to defeat their opponents.
Onetime conservative wunderkind-turned-filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who brought “2016: Obama’s America” to the big screen in 2012, is now further entrenched in the world of dirty politics.
D’Souza, who rose from Reaganite beginnings to become a fixture on the ’90s speaking circuit, stands accused by federal prosecutors of funneling $20,000 in illegal contributions to New York Senate contender Wendy Long, a Republican, also in 2012. That was a busy year for the commentator-filmmaker, apparently, as he also left his position as president of the King’s College that October after it was discovered he was engaged to one Mrs. Denise Odie Joseph while still married himself.
D’Souza is just a very few years older than me and I was a big fan of his going back a quarter century or more ago, when he was a precocious rising star among the conservative commentariat. His arguments, alas, grew stale over the years, both because he seemed not to evolve beyond his views as a just-out-of-Dartmouth wunderkind and because my own views have indeed evolved in light of experience and new evidence.
Regardless, though, this is a saddening turn of events. Between contemptible
commentary on Twitter for a grown ass man who should know better, his disgraceful treatment of a woman he pledged to honor until death did them part, and the most ill-advised political crime since Watergate, D’Souza has become a pathetic figure.