The Washington Post

Conservative author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza charged in campaign finance case

Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza was indicted Thursday on federal charges of violating campaign finance laws by using straw donors to funnel money to a U.S. Senate candidate.

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.

Read the indictment

report

The U.S. District Court filed an indictment against Dinesh D'Souza alleging campaign finance fraud. Read it.

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.

The criminal charges, filed in U.S. District Court, allege that D’Souza in 2012 illegally reimbursed associates whom he asked to make donations valued at $20,000 to an unnamed Senate campaign. At the time, primary and general election campaign contributions to federal candidates were limited to $2,500 each from any individual to any single candidate.

A U.S. federal grand jury indicts filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate. (Reuters)

Those limits on candidate donations have been dramatically surpassed by the increasingly common practice of using nonprofit groups as a vehicle to make unlimited contributions to independent political committees. Recent court decisions have sanctioned and encouraged large-dollar donations from individuals, unions and corporations, provided the funds are spent independently of a candidate’s official campaign.

According to the indictment, D’Souza’s straw donor scheme caused the campaign committee to falsely report to the FEC the sources of its contributions.

D’Souza was charged Thursday with one count of making illegal campaign contributions, 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, which carries a maximum of five years in prison.

Straw-donor cases have been brought against prominnent individuals from time to time. For example, in 2011, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor chargest of making $20,000 in donations to the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards and reimbursing straw donors.

Tom Hamburger covers the intersection of money and politics for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 18%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.