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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza's Campaign Finance Crime

Conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza admitted in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to committing campaign finance fraud by funneling campaign contributions through straw donors to the campaign of an unsuccessful Republican Senate candidate (Wendy Long, from New York) in 2012.

D'Souza's actions were a clear evasion and violation of the campaign finance laws limiting individual contributions to a candidate. As such, he broke the law.

Is campaign finance fraud prosecuted? You bet it is. Just recently, associates of now-former New York City Comptroller John Liu and Congressman Michael Grimm were successfully prosecuted by the Justice Department for the same type of straw donor violation. (Liu himself has never been charged with wrongdoing, while Grimm was recently charged with unrelated federal crimes stemming from an investigation that may have originated from the probe into his campaign finance activities.)

Because D'Souza is an outspoken conservative, some people immediately cried that the investigation and prosecution of D'Souza was partisan, political and unwarranted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

D'Souza broke the law that everyone else obeys. Even if you choose to believe politics played a role in his investigation and prosecution, and by extension that his was a trumped-up charge, his politics are neither relevant nor an excuse.

One problem. D'Souza admitted to a felony. Anyone persisting in holding he is a victim of "the system" faces an embarrassing quandary. Either he's an admitted felon, or he committed perjury in open court. (As to the latter, others get away with lying to judges all the time -- I caught one of them -- but others' success at breaking the law does not entitle anyone else to break it.) So D'Souza's either an admitted felon or a prospective repeat felon. 

The partisans defending his actions are shredding their own credibility.

Eric Dixon is a New York corporate lawyer who handles election law and investigative matters in both New York and New Jersey.

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