The attorney representing conservative filmmaker and activist Dinesh D’Souza claims that the case against his client is politically motivated and that D’Souza is being singled out for prosecution because of his work to discredit and undermine the administration of President Barack Obama.
The New York Times reported, however, that campaign donation records and incriminating audio tape indicate that the right-leaning activist knew full well that he was breaking the law and was even planning ahead of time what he would do if he got caught.
A former aide to the Reagan White House and author of The Roots of Obama’s Rage, D’Souza is charged with using straw donors to illegally contribute $20,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long, a former school friend of D’Souza’s who unsuccessfully ran against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in 2012.
D’Souza’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that D’Souza is guilty of nothing more than “an act of misguided friendship” and that the longtime pundit and political operative didn’t know that it was illegal to ask friends to donate money to Long on the promise that D’Souza would reimburse them later.
The federal government, said Brafman, has singled out D’Souza for prosecution due to his “consistently caustic and highly publicized criticism” of Pres. Obama and the Democratic Party.
Manhattan’s U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment, but filed papers last week saying that Brafman’s selective prosecution claims are “entirely without merit.” Prosecutors submitted documents to the court showing that in March of 2012, D’Souza attempted to donate $10,000 to Long’s campaign and was informed by the campaign that the donation was double the legal limit of $5,000 per individual.
The campaign wrote D’Souza back asking if the donation was from him and his then-wife, and included the necessary papers for an individual donation from both D’Souzas. The papers were completed and returned to the campaign, although Mrs. D’Souza has since informed prosecutors that the donation was made with neither her knowledge nor her consent.
Furthermore, the cuckolded husband of Denise Joseph — D’Souza’s mistress in the affair that ended his marriage and another straw donor to Long’s campaign — made audio recordings in October, 2012 of his wife discussing D’Souza’s plans should he get caught making the illegal donations.
Ms. Joseph told her then-husband that D’Souza planned to plea guilty if caught, but would first plead not guilty in order to make use of the limited window of time he would purportedly have “to get his story out there.”
That and “(t)he evidence of illegality with regard to his own and his wife’s contribution,” the U.S. Attorney’s office wrote, “will help prove that the defendant knew that what he was doing in August 2012 was wrong and it was not a fleeting, accidental misjudgment; it was part of a larger pattern of flouting campaign finance limits he knew existed.”
D’Souza pleaded not guilty a criminal indictment in January. His trial is slated for next month. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.