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Dinesh D’Souza Pleads Guilty To Being A Really Stupid Criminal

crime-handcuffs

Last January, conservative firebrand Dinesh D’Souza, who has made a name for himself in conservative circles with his anti-Obama films featuring rhetoric that seemed out of character given some of his writing in the past, was indicted for violating Federal election laws. As alleged in the indictment, D’Souza had convinced two associates to donate $10,000 each to the campaign of Wendy Long, the Republican running a seemingly unwinnable race against New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand in 2012, and then reimbursing them for the full amount of their donations. In this manner, the indictment alleged, D’Souza was able to evade the 40 year old law that limits the amount that an individual can contribute to a political candidate. For his part, D’Souza and his supporters, a group which quickly dwindled after he was indicted, claimed that the entire prosecution was an example of political targeting by the Obama Administration and that D’Souza was only being prosecuted because of his criticisms of the President over the past five years.

The trial in D’Souza’s case was supposed to begin in New York City today with jury selection. Instead, D’Souza has given up the ghost and plead guilty:

(Reuters) – Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a campaign finance law violation, avoiding a trial that had been expected to begin the same day in a Manhattan federal court.

D’Souza, known for his biting criticism of President Barack Obama, pleaded guilty to one criminal count of making illegal contributions in the names of others. A second count concerning the making of false statements is expected to be dismissed once he is sentenced.

The plea came four months after Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged D’Souza with using “straw donors” to give funds in 2012 to Republican Wendy Long’s U.S. Senate campaign in New York. Long, who met D’Souza while they were students in the 1980s, lost to Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza, 53, told U.S. District Judge Berman on Tuesday. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

Prosecutors said D’Souza asked two friends and their spouses to contribute $10,000 each to Long’s campaign and then reimbursed them. At the time, campaign finance regulations limited individual donations to a maximum of $5,000 during an election cycle.

One of the friends was Denise Joseph, who was engaged to D’Souza while he was still married to another woman. D’Souza resigned as president of King’s College, a small Christian school in New York City, after the media revealed his relationship with Joseph in 2012.

The fact that this ended in a plea deal is not at all surprising. When I first read the indictment back in January it seemed pretty clear to me that the Federal Government had D’Souza dead to rights. Presuming that they could prove the essential facts of their case —- the donations by D’Souza’s friends followed by his reimbursement to them — beyond a reasonable doubt, then there really wasn’t any credibly defense that he could offer to the charges. That’s one of the reasons that all we heard from him and his attorney for the past four months was the allegation that his prosecution was “selective” and motivated by his criticism of the Obama Administration. There was no other argument for his attorney to make. Of course, pushing the persecution meme is also in D’Souza’s future financial interests as he will no doubt return to his life as an anti-Obama pundit after this case is finished, or even before it’s finished. The inevitability of  a plea deal also became apparent last week when his attorney lost a motion to be allowed to make this so-called political targeting argument to the jury at D’Souza’s trial. Once they no longer had that argument to go with, there was no rational reason for D’Souza to go to trial and risk a guilty verdict and sentence that would have been far more severe than whatever he is ultimately sentenced to.

There is one as yet unanswered question about this case, namely exactly how Federal investigators were tipped off to what D’Souza did. The fact that he reimbursed the two people who donated to Long would not have been apparent from any public records outside, possibly, of the transaction reports that the Federal Reserve receives when someone transfers $10,000 or more to a single person in a single transaction. Even then, though, someone would’ve had to know to look for a correlation between the donation and the money transfers. The most likely explanation to me comes in what was going on in D’Souza’s personal life at the time of the donations. As noted above, one of the people who he convinced to “donate” to Long was the woman with whom he was having an affair with while still married to his wife. As it turns out, that woman, Denise Joseph, was also married at the time her relationship. If one estranged spouse or the other saw something fishy in the finances, it wouldn’t take much for them to pick up their phone and make a phone call. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ultimately, though, this is, as Steven Taylor intimated in his post on the matter in January, an incredibly stupid crime. Leaving aside the facts of how he was caught, D’Souza apparently did nothing to hide what he was doing here, to the point of even telling the two people who made the straw donations what was happening. More importantly, though, outside of an apparent personal friendship with Long that dates back to their Dartmouth days, there’s no rational reason why he would’ve done this. Long never polled above 27% in her race against Gillibrand and ended up losing the race by three million votes. An extra ten thousand dollars wasn’t going to do anything for her campaign. So, in addition to pulling of his crime in the stupidest, most inept way possible, D’Souza did it for a stupid and inconceivable reason. As President Josaih Bartlet put it on The West Wing, “God, well… Some of the stupidest criminals in the world are working right here in America. I’ve always been very proud of that.”

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JR says:

    Are you going to cover the Veterans Hospitals story??

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 28

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Another Republican hero…a Patriot…made a victim of selective prosecution by the tyrannical Obama Administration.
    If he had the deep pockets to take this to SCOTUS he would win…as the only actual possible political corruption, according to the Roberts Court, is the direct exchange of $$ from D’Souza to a politician. I know SCOTUS would rule that he was merely exercising his right to free speech.
    Well anyway…that’s one less low-information Republican voter and borderline psychotic gun-owner we have to worry about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @JR: What is it with conservatives that they think it’s valid to criticize an author’s story for being on a subject the author chose and not on the conservative’s current hobby horse?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 1

  4. JR says:

    @gVOR08:

    This story like many others recently shows a marked decline in the quality of stories featured on here. The Veterans Hospitals mess is an important story. Other stories you may have missed are the latest Chinese espionage story, the mining disaster in Turkey, a Der Spiegel story on how NATO is unprepared to defend Europe, the GOP trying to curb the powers of the suprisingly effective CFPB, and the Wired’s article on Curbing Online Abuse.

    I remember when this site used to have good articles. Now we get articles to attract clicks or more endless polls on 2014 and 2016.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 36

  5. CSK says:

    It’s always been said that politics makes strange bedfellows. In this case, illicit bedfellows made really stupid politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. Andrew says:

    NB, FINCEN, subordinate to the Treasury Department, is responsible for tracking money transfers of $10,000 or more (and other transfer, as set by the Bank Secrecy Act), NOT the Federal Reserve.

    The transaction could have touched the Fed if it used the Automated Clearing House or other methods, but that is different from the law enforcement reporting angle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Scott O says:

    These people need to learn that when they come to America they have to follow our laws, not the laws of their homeland. He should be deported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @JR:
    Sure…but the Palin story is the top news of the day…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. jewelbomb says:

    “Selective prosecution! Benghazi! Eric Holder! Fast and Furious!”: This has been brought to you by every right wing site on the internet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  10. anjin-san says:

    @ JR

    Start your own blog dude. Google Blogger is simple to use and free.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  11. KM says:

    @JR:

    The Veterans Hospitals mess is an important story. Other stories you may have missed are the latest Chinese espionage story, the mining disaster in Turkey, a Der Spiegel story on how NATO is unprepared to defend Europe, the GOP trying to curb the powers of the suprisingly effective CFPB, and the Wired’s article on Curbing Online Abuse.

    You know what? Those are important stories, especially the Veterans mess. You should get on investigating those and writing up a post about them on your own blog. Clearly you are interested enough in them to go dig and educate yourself further. Go and be enlightened! Or petition to be a ghost writer for OTB and see where that goes.

    Doug, James, et al. will write what they want to write – about what speaks to them and what they find relevant. Is it everything? No. Are there stories I’d love to get their take on? Of course! Am I disappointed at how some topics dear to me are “ignored”? Occasionally. That’s why I have other sources of news. I’m here for the discourse – the author’s topic is merely sounding the starting gun.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  12. Pinky says:

    Or, you could just make a lot of comments about Thaddeus McCotter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. mantis says:

    @JR:

    Other stories you may have missed

    I like the implied assumption that none of us read anything but OTB. Nonsense, but I guess it helps you feel superior!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  14. Ken says:

    @JR: I remember when this site used to have good articles.

    I’m so sorry the free buffet doesn’t have all the menu offerings you would like. I’m sure loud complaints to the management and other patrons will rectify this awful situation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  15. John Peabody says:

    There’s a quote I heard about TV shows that are hip, but then slowly become un-hip…something like: “For everyone, it was the best show ever until six months after they started watching it, before going into decline”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. the Q says:

    Lets face it boys, JR has a good point.

    When I first started reading this blog, our authors were unknowns (relatively) and now they are all over the blogs because of their success!

    Its like, we had the Beatles at the Cavern Club, now we’re upset they only play the Hollywood Bowl or Ed Sullivan’s show and we can’t see them as often.

    Doug and James now have so many other venues and platforms that the sheer volume of articles posted here is no longer like the good ol’ days.

    Ah, the price of success. But I still enjoy the OTB and alll the enlightened comments and am happy for Doug and James’ as they progress in their professional careers and become more prominent in the cloister of pundits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  17. JR says:

    @mantis:

    No, I don’t feel superior. I just the miss the old site which had better articles and weren’t obsessed with Midterm polls. I’d also start my own blog but I sadly do not have time with work and family. I know I can go elsewhere and I will. It was nice knowing many of you even folks who I had disagreements with. We may differ on certain issues, but think at the end of the day, we all pretty much want the same basic things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  18. wr says:

    @JR: Lots of interesting stuff going on in the world. Why don’t you start your own blog and write about them, instead of whining that other people won’t express your opinions for you?

    And PS — Reading this blog is free. They owe you nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. wr says:

    @JR: ” I’d also start my own blog but I sadly do not have time with work and family. ”

    So you don’t have the time to write about the subjects of personal interest to you… but you expect complete strangers will somehow find the time in their own lives to write what you want.

    You’re not a Tea Partier by any chance, are you?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  20. wr says:

    I’m glad this sleazeball pled guitly, but I’d be happier if the judge made him explain why he claimed in print that the Obama administration was targeting him because of his political views when he knew he was guilty.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  21. mantis says:

    @JR:

    No, I don’t feel superior. I just the miss the old site which had better articles and weren’t obsessed with Midterm polls.

    I guess I understand that, but you’re talking about something you get for free that requires work from people who have day jobs. I just don’t get why people complain about bloggers’ choice of topics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  22. dennis says:

    @JR:

    I remember when this site used to have good articles. Now we get articles to attract clicks or more endless polls on 2014 and 2016.

    There’s an oh, so easy remedy to your plight, JR …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0