BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Not long his appearance on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher", where he acted in his usual smarty-pants manner -- pulling crap out of his ass, as Maher might say -- right-wing author, commentator, and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza "has struck a deal with prosecutors over charges he used straw donors to give $15,000 more to a U.S. Senate campaign than is allowed under campaign finance laws," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Instead of going to trial, which was scheduled for this week in New York, D'Souza, who, a few years ago was forced to resign as president of The King's College in New York over apparent marital infidelity, pleaded guilty and could face up to two years in prison when he is sentenced sometime in early fall.
Whether D'Souza will serve any time in prison is anyone's guess, but one thing is absolutely certain: The right has a new martyr on its hands and D'Souza's new film will undoubtedly capitalize on the D'Souza story.
"I deeply regret my conduct," the darling of Christian conservatives told a judge in New York. "I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids," he added.
Three days before his humbling appearance in court, D'Souza was telling The Blaze TV's "Dana" that, "Ironically, the left began in the sixties as a defender of free speech. But as the left began to gain power in the universities, they began to realize there were dissenters against them. And then they began to say, 'Well, wait a minute — maybe we don't believe in free speech that much.'"
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) pointed out that "In exchange for D'Souza's plea, prosecutors are expected to drop the more serious charge of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison." According to The New York Daily News, "The illegal contributions count carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, but his plea deal calls for 10 to 16 months behind bars." The paper noted that, "D'Souza will likely seek a more lenient sentence but may be fined up to $250,000."
As I wrote earlier this year, the case revolved around D'Souza donating more than is legal to the campaign of Wendy Long, who ran in 2012 for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, and lost to incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand by over 40 points.
After D'Souza's indictment, D'Souza's right-wing cronies went bat-shit. Gerald Molen, a co-producer of 2016: Obama's America – D'Souza's anti-Obama film which was released before the 2012 presidential election and became the second highest grossing political documentary ever -- claimed the charges were politically motivated. D'Souza's attorney Benjamin Brafman characterized his client's action as "an act of misguided friendship."
On Tuesday, after D'Souza's plea, Brafman "told THR that D'Souza did, in fact, urge two associates to donate $10,000 each to Long's campaign and then reimbursed them; therefore, 'there was no viable defense' against the charges."
"We are hopeful that Judge [Richard] Berman will recognize Mr. D'Souza to be a fundamentally honorable man who should not be imprisoned for what was an isolated instance of wrongdoing in an otherwise productive and responsible life," Brafman said.
D'Souza is in the process of putting the finishing touches on his latest film America, scheduled for release on July 2. The trailer for the film, based on D'Souza's soon-to-be-released book America: Imagine A World Without Her, can be seen here.
"Along with featuring illegal immigration and liberal commentators who disparage the U.S., Dinesh D'Souza's new film will take on the National Security Agency," The Hollywood Reporter pointed out.
According to THR, "The surveillance tactics employed by NSA allegedly to thwart terrorists -- including intercepting emails in and out of the U.S. and forcing phone companies to supply details of millions of calls -- have become extraordinarily controversial, yet few people have witnessed the NSA in action. With America ... D'Souza seeks to rectify that situation."
According to THR, D'Souza's big get was to be an interview with President Obama's half-brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, but Ndesandjo recently back out. According to THR, "Ndesandjo is the son of Barack Obama Sr. and a Harvard woman named Ruth Baker, who later married a man with the surname Ndesandjo. In his book, Dreams From My Father, the president briefly writes of a couple of visits in 1987 with his half brother, who at the time was a Stanford student studying physics, though their meetings took place in Kenya. Ndesandjo did not share the president's admiration for their father nor his romantic view of Africa, according to the book."
As of Tuesday afternoon, featured prominently on dineshdsouza.com is a story from WND quoting D'Souza's co-producer Gerald Molen claiming: "This administration doesn't see its opponents as dissenters but as enemies, and if they can't refute you, they try to lock you up. Normally these types of offenses are resolved with fines or community service. I and the American people will be watching closely to make sure that justice is done in the sentencing portion."
Another dineshdsouza.com story, original posted at National Review, quotes from the statement issued by Wendy Long: "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."
It's a Win, Win for D'Souza; Illegal campaign contribution -- $15,000; time possibly spent in the hoosegow – 10 to 16 months; martyrdom and publicity for his new film -- Priceless.