Dinesh D’Souza, the outspoken conservative scholar and filmmaker, has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he paid others to contribute to a friend’s campaign for New York U.S. Senate seat in New York in 2012. Sentencing has been set for September 23. D’Souza may be sentenced only to probation, but a jail sentence is possible.
The plea cuts short a process that was scheduled to go to trial today. Last week, D’Souza lost a motion to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds he had been selectively prosecuted.
The law barring individuals from contributing more than $5,000 to federal candidates is enforced sparingly, but apparently the evidence that D’Souza reimbursed others for donating money to Wendy Long, a New York lawyer who challenged Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand, was extensive.
Long, a friend of D’Souza’s from their days at The Dartmouth Review in the 1980s, was not a target of the investigation and didn’t know about the illegal donations at the time. She has just issued a statement upon learning of D’Souza’s plea:
I am heartbroken about this. Dinesh has always been a generous man and a loyal friend who has helped many people. There was never a time when he was trying to do anything but help me personally, support my U.S. Senate campaign, and advance the ideals of freedom that we share. The statute that the government has used to target him is unconstitutional. When our government criminalizes the very free speech that the First Amendment was written to protect, sends people to prison for simply exercising their constitutional rights, and when government power is wielded like weapon against political enemies, we are all in trouble. There is no corruption here, and this entire episode is a shameful government overreach and a violation of the U.S. Constitution.