Dinesh D’Souza, popular author and the film-maker responsible for 2016: Obama’s America, has been arrested and indicted for campaign finance fraud. Apparently, he gave four times more than the $5,000 individual cap to Republican Wendy Long. She was running to replace Senator Hillary Clinton’s vacated seat in 2012. And Long ended up losing to Kirsten Gillibrand anyway.
D’Souza allegedly attempted to give his contribution in the names of others to hide his excesses. But the ever-vigilant forces of the New York civil government found out his clearly great evil. US Attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara said,
“As we have long said, this Office and the FBI take a zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process.”
Yes, you all have been so upstanding in the past. Consider this: All D’Souza would have needed to do was to pay for advertisements from behind a corporation, and he would have been allowed to donate an effectively unlimited amount. Which makes no sense at all. Gillibrand received huge amounts (through PACs or advertising or employee campaign drives) from incorporated entities. Huge. You think $20,000 is a lot of money? It’s not. Try almost $400,000 to Gillibrand from Boies, Schiller, and Flexner (a New York law firm). In fact, all of Gillibrand’s top 20 donors gave more than $20,000. All of them. None of her top twenty gave less than $70,000.
The only difference is that these contributors were not individuals. They were incorporated. In effect, it was a single interest’s money being given in the names of many individuals. Hmmmm. And under the Citizens United ruling, corporations can spend an unlimited amount to advertise for particular candidates. For Preet Bharara to make the claim that the civil government has a “zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process” is absurd in light of Citizens United. But what should we expect from a man whose full first name is actually Preetinder? (His parents hated him.)
If it is true that D’Souza gave $20,000 and hoped to hide this fact behind multiple names, would it have made a practical difference if he had hidden his identity behind incorporation? Legally, this would have made a difference perhaps. Practically, I fail to see any difference. This is a witch-hunt, plain and simple.
Wendy Long lost. D’Souza’s donations were negligible considering how much was spent in this campaign. And Citizens United makes this individual limitation arbitrary (at best) anyway. All in all, they are arresting and indicting D’Souza because they don’t like his politics. And they can. But let’s not pretend their real motivation is heartfelt devotion to the letter of the law. Give me a break.