Washington, May 21: Dinesh D’Souza, an Indian-American conservative commentator and author who shot to fame with a highly critical 2012 documentary of President Barack Obama, has pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law.
D’Souza, 53, of San Diego, admitted to exceeding donor limits in 2012 by arranging for others to give to the New York Senate campaign of Republican candidate Wendy Long, Manhattan’s Indian-American US Attorney Preet Bharara said Tuesday.
He also admitted to making false statements about those donations.
A former policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan, D’Souza directed a 2012 documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” that was highly critical of President Barack Obama and based on his book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage”.
According to the indictment, D’Souza and his wife contributed $10,000 to Long’s campaign. He then directed associates to contribute on behalf of themselves and their spouses, totalling $20,000. D’Souza was to reimburse them.
Federal election law limits individual campaign contributions to a federal candidate to $2,500 each for a primary and general election campaign.
The law also bars any person from making contributions in the name of others or reimbursing another person’s contribution.
Long lost to Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.
She and other Republicans, like Senator Ted Cruz, have argued that the government was unfairly targeting D’Souza for his political affiliation, according to CNN.
D’Souza argued for the charges to be dismissed on grounds of selective prosecution.
Last week, a judge denied that motion, citing “no evidence” to support it.
“Following the court’s ruling denying Dinesh D’Souza’s baseless claim of selective prosecution, D’Souza now has admitted, through his guilty plea, what we have asserted all along — that he knowingly and intentionally violated federal election laws,” Bharara said in a statement.
“As our Office’s record reflects, we will investigate and prosecute violations of federal law, particularly those that undermine the integrity of the democratic electoral process, without regard to the defendant’s political persuasion or party affiliation. That is what we did in this case and what we will continue to do.”
Meanwhile, Deadline Hollywood cited D’Souza’s producer Gerald Molen as saying the indictment was politically motivated but that it would not stop the upcoming sequel to “2016: Obama’s America”, which has already set a July 4 release date.
D’Souza says his film imagines what today’s world would be like if America had never existed because “we are now living in the America that we warned our fellow citizens could come to pass if President Obama were re-elected”.
Considered the second-most-successful political documentary in US box office history, “2016” has made more than $33 million since it was released in July 2012 during the heat of the presidential elections, according to Deadline.