It’s surprisingly difficult to break campaign-finance laws. Thanks to conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, the system is woefully lax and schemes that used to be illegal are now perfectly permissible.
But if new allegations are correct, it appears right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza allegedly found a way to run afoul of the law anyway.
*Conservative firebrand Dinesh D’Souza was indicted Thursday for allegedly violating federal campaign finance laws, the Justice Department announced.
D’Souza, an author and the former president of King’s College, is accused of “causing $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to be made to a candidate for the U.S. Senate in calendar year 2012,” according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He is also charged with causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, D’Souza is accused of allegedly using straw donors to make illegal third party donations to a candidate for Senate in 2012. According to prosecutors, D’Souza encouraged others to contribute to a candidate and then reimbursed those donors for the contributions – in effect, using others to exceed campaign-finance limits. It is widely believed the candidate in question is New York’s Wendy Long (R), who lost to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D).
D’Souza has denied any wrongdoing.
Given his right-wing activism and racially charged rhetoric – the Columbia Journalism Review called his 2010 book “a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia” and a “singularly disgusting work” – it’s easy to imagine his progressive critics taking some satisfaction in D’Souza’s personal, professional, and legal troubles. “Schadenfreude” was a common reaction late yesterday.
But let’s not forget what inevitably comes next.
The legal process will certainly move forward and D’Souza, like anyone else charged with crime, will have an opportunity to defend himself. But long before court proceedings, the right will take this opportunity to celebrate D’Souza as a political martyr. Ben Dimiero noted this morning that his allies are already claiming that “the move is evidence of a conspiracy by the Obama administration to silence its critics.”
Matt Drudge tweeted that the indictments against D’Souza and former Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder is “unleashing the dogs” on “Obama critics.”
Alex Jones raised the same argument last night, as did Fox contributor Laura Ingraham on her radio show this morning. Fox News even raised the specter of “selective prosecution” of D’Souza.
Obviously, the idea that the Justice Department would go out of its way to target D’Souza is pretty silly and those pushing the argument have nothing to substantiate it. But the takeaway from their reaction is that the indictment may actually help improve D’Souza’s standing in conservative political circles.