When reports surfaced regarding Dinesh D’Souza’s inictment on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws, some serious questions were raised about the criminal investigation of the author and filmmaker.
Although the FBI and Justice Department did not explicitly reveal to which election the charges had referred, Federal Election Commission records indicated that the only political candidate to which D’Souza had ever donated was Wendy Long, a former New York senatorial candidate.
In 2012, Long experienced a major loss to incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, having raised less than $1 million for what was considered at the time to be an impossible campaign to win.
In a landslide victory, Gillibrand trounced Long, garnering 72 percent to Long’s 27 percent.
In the indictment, D’Souza is charged with an alleged illegal campaign contribution made through straw donors to the tune of $20,000, purportedly in an effort to avoid the individual donation limit of $2,500.
An intriguing question is why an individual with the educational background and intelligence of D’Souza would risk criminal prosecution to make a relatively small donation in a contest that involved tens of millions of dollars. After all, much larger sums of money are routinely given to campaigns through other legal vehicles including political action committees and nonprofit entities.
D’Souza is alleged to have reimbursed donors for the individual maximum amount in order to circumvent laws that prohibit one person from making a contribution in the name of another.
D’Souza’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, released a statement that sounded as if it contained a quasi-admission, Brafman indicated that D’Souza “did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever. He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and at worst, this was an act of misguided friendship.”
The discovery of D’Souza’s alleged wrongdoings are claimed to be the product of routine FBI investigations of campaign filings by various candidates. Questions remain, however, as to how investigators made the decision to look into D’Souza’s activities in the first place.
D’Souza’s prosecutor is an Indian-American Democrat, Preet Bharara, who formerly worked for New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Schumer’s close ties with the Obama administration helped to place Bharara in the powerful U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
Becuase D’Souza is best known for having produced the documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” which portrays President Barack Obama in a rather unflattering light, Gerald Molen, who was a co-producer on the project, expressed the suspisions of numerous Obama critics regarding the idictment, saying that it amounts to a “selective prosecution,” implicitly raising the spectre that the criminal charges may be a political retaliation against D’Souza.
Because the charges against D’Souza surfaced following the highly visible media reports surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of Tea Party groups, the timing of the indictment is somewhat curious.
Additional questions still linger as to why the administration is launching a public prosecution of a high-profile critic over a relatively minor amount of money that was given to an insignificant candidate in a no-win political race?