January 24, 2014

Is the prosecution of Dinesh d'Souza politically motivated?

"It is not clear from the court documents what led investigators to Mr. D’Souza in a fund-raising case involving relatively small donations, in a race that ended in a blowout win for Ms. Gillibrand. Ms. Long raised about $785,000 in the race."

Well, he made that movie attacking Obama, but when I read what his lawyer is saying....
"Mr. D’Souza did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever.... He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and at most, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza."
... I think it looks pretty much like a confession that D'Souza committed the criminal acts. What's the defense? That he's a good person who meant well and enjoyed camaraderie with the beneficiary of his illegal acts? I don't think campaign finance laws work that way, but maybe I'm wrong. Personally, I avoid campaign finance because I think the law is set up to snag people on all sorts of weird details. I'm troubled by that, because it means that you can't run for office unless you have plenty of legal advice, so how do you begin to run for office? It's really oppressive. But if there's going to be oppression like that, it can't be an out that you didn't mean to violate any law, can it?

Since the legal minefield intimidates most of us out of engaging in fund-raising at all, those who do venture forth should be blown away by every infraction, don't you think? Being a famous movie-maker who looks like he's on an enemies list shouldn't save you.

(We saw D'Souza's movie, and I blogged about it here and here.)

ADDED: Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this post and for expanding on the reasons for suspecting that the answer to the question in my post title is yes. I can see in his comments section (and perhaps also in mine) that some readers are having trouble understanding my point, which is similar to what I say about legalizing marijuana. Laws need to be enforced neutrally, across the board, or we need to be free of them. When the executive authority spares its friends or, worse, targets its enemies, what is revealed is the insufficient or fake commitment to rules that bind everyone and that deter rule-followers (like me) from engaging in activities we might want to engage in. I want to smoke out this insufficient or fake commitment to campaign finance law by challenging government to prosecute all violators. If that challenge is unmet, we deserve different laws.

AND: It's really quite unfair, when some candidates spent lots of money carefully avoiding violations of the law and forgo contributions that would violate the law, for another candidate to get away with violations. But it doesn't undo the unfairness to prosecute some and not others. It only breeds more disrespect for the law. When government is churning out a lot of rules — especially in an area that burdens political and free-speech rights — it has a special obligation to commit to equal and predictable enforcement of the law. Otherwise it looks like these laws exist for the purpose of deterring political participation and to punish political enemies.

130 comments:

Michael said...

Doesnt matter if he is guilty. The Federal Govt wins over 90% of its cases does it not? They will grind you down, bankrupt you, humiliate you, strangle your resources. Because they can. See US vs Conrad Black.

john marzan said...

this looks small compared to the IRS scandal under obama.

JackOfVA said...

It's a violation of federal campaign financing law to accept donations from non-US citizens as I understand it.

During both the 2008 & '12 campaigns, Obama's web site solicited small donations below the threshold for name and address reporting (200?), and, more interestingly, disabled the credit card country of origin information.

No curiosity by the mainstream media or the DOJ.

We are seeing is the "Chicagoization" of national government, whereby the Democrat party uses the power of government to destroy political opponents.

stlcdr said...

I read this story elsewhere, and was expecting millions of dollars, filtered through various methods into the campaign.

But $20k. While the law has been broken - as obtuse as it may be - this isn't exactly the crime of the century, and doesn't justify such wasteful oversight.

Perhaps the story isn't the crime, but making a story out of the story to support a conspiracy theory?

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Well, it depends on how the Law is interpreted. And that depends on the politics of the interpreter.

If you're not OK with that, maybe it's better just not have that particular Law.

Beta Rube said...

Apparently old Eric has become more of a stickler for rules since his Marc Rich days.

Humperdink said...

d'Souza needs to contact David Gregory's defense lawyer in a hurry.

traditionalguy said...

Again, all acts are criminalized.

That increases the risk of playing the game. The winners are safe. The losers rue the day they entered the game because their "bundling activities" are crimes that will likely be prosecuted if discovered. The winners bundling activities are never discovered.

The key fact is that the Bundler has a explainable method of reimbursing the donors for their contributions. To hide that requires a gang ethic of never talking to the police.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Presumably these were the profits of his political movie being reinvested back into politics. If he'd taken the Citizens United route, it would have been legal. Or, he could have legally loaned the money to the campaign.

Can you corrupt a losing cause? Surely this Senate race was a sure to lose situation.

Michael K said...

Three felonies a day. The same has been done to medicine so that doctors now are at the mercy of federal law. It was no accident.

Skeptical Voter said...

Was this politically motivated?

Do bears defecate in the woods?

It's easy enough to see Barack Obama as Richard III, and Eric Holder as the Sheriff of Nottingham--deciding which laws to enforce, and which laws to ignore.

damikesc said...

Is it politically motivated?

Good God yes. Couldn't be more blatant if they tried.

Obama SHUT OFF all verification software on his campaign site to avoid fraud.

I notice Holder wasn't interested. Either time.

Our only hope is for a Republican to release every single document the WH has produced for the last 8 yrs and prosecute viciously.

Kirby Olson said...

Everything in this administration is about getting its enemies by any means necessary.

SGT Ted said...

What "criminal acts"?

You mean, invented out of whole cloth "criminal acts" that involved a law that restricts political speech to rich people that can purchase special treatment via campaign donations?

This is a fascist Government, run like a 2 bit banana republic. We have a duty to disobey and oppose such. Sometimes lawyers don't get that part of the Constitution.

jacksonjay said...


Gibson Guitar Corporation

SGT Ted said...

We have the Democrat Party using the Executive branch of the Federal Government to go after it's opponents and prosecuting them because of their speech against the Democratic Party. Constitutional Law Professor Ann Althouse is cool with this, because there's a "campaign finance" law on the books that provides them cover to do so.

These aren't "Democrats" These are fascists.

EDH said...

Not to draw the, er, "race line", but the US Atty seems to have a lot of high profile cases involving Indians (and other interesting facts).

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As we have long said, this Office and the FBI take a zero tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process. If, as alleged, the defendant directed others to make contributions to a Senate campaign and reimbursed them, that is a serious violation of federal campaign finance laws.”

Wiki:

Preetinder Singh "Preet" Bharara (born 1968) is an Indian American attorney and the current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 2012, Bharara was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World," and by India Abroad as its 2011 Person of the Year...

He came to the spotlight again with the prosecution of an Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, which created tensions in the India-US relations...

Bharara was nominated to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was sworn into the position on August 13, 2009.[21]
In regards to the role of the prosecutor and the correct attitude of the prosecutor Mr. Bharara will ask all applicants to his office "How are you going to feel knowing that every day in your job, by definition of you doing your job correctly on the criminal side, you will basically be the proximate cause for, and responsible for, another human being losing his or her liberty for periods of time?" He continues, "From time to time, you get an applicant that is a little bit excited about that prospect. And takes some joy in that prospect. And they are a little too zealous about it. And you know what we do? We don't hire that person." "You don't want a justice system where you have prosecutors who are cowboys"...

From 2009 to 2012 (and ongoing), Bharara's office oversaw the Galleon Group insider trading investigation against Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta, Anil Kumar and 60+ others.

Preet Bharara and his office came to the limelight again with the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of India in New York. Ms. Khobragade was arrested for visa fraud.

Bharara is a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan. At an October 2012 concert in Hartford, Connecticut, Springsteen shouted, “This is for Preet Bharara!” before launching into his song “Death to My Hometown.”

Rae said...

Would.a Democrat be prosecuted under the same set of facts, is the question that needs to be asked.

AJ Lynch said...

Compare the speed with which the feds issued subpoenas [and the number of subpoenas] on the Christie embroglio with the IRS scandal ho-hum snails pace non-investigation. So my answer is of course.

Roger Sweeny said...

So you're saying campaign finance laws might have a "chilling effect" on political participation? Wow, that phrase sounds quaint.

Since campaign finance laws are, by definition, written by incumbents, and incumbents have an incentive to make it hard for challengers, I have always thought that there should be a strong constitutional presumption against any of those laws.

garage mahal said...

Is this politically motivated? Who knows, just spit-balling here.

Roger Sweeny said...

So you're saying campaign finance laws might have a "chilling effect" on political participation? Wow, that phrase sounds quaint.

Since campaign finance laws are, by definition, written by incumbents, and incumbents have an incentive to make it hard for challengers, I have always thought that there should be a strong constitutional presumption against any of those laws.

CWJ said...

If he's guilty, he's guilty. Compared to the Conrad Black prosecution, this appears fairly straightforward.

But combined the noninterest in the Obama campaign's turning off credit card verification and Holder seeking and getting the Marc Rich pardon, this stinks.

Birkel said...

Laws that are written to prosecute only the act contemplated by the law and not the mental state to prove guilt are more likely to be unjustly applied. The lawyer seems to attempt a defense, in the press, that his client did not have the guilty mind.

And somehow Althouse thinks such a defense is unwarranted?

mccullough said...

If the US attorney's office and FBI in New York City have time and resources to investigate and prosecute such a pissant $20,000 case, the federal government is too big. This is a victimless crime. Corzine steals over $1 billion in client segregated funds and nothing happens. Get some priorities.

Auntie Ann said...

Couldn't this be much worse for him? As a naturalized American, couldn't they strip his US citizenship if he's convicted? You can be sure that's one immigration law they'd be delighted to not ignore.

somefeller said...

To understand this prosecution, one must understand Kenyan anti-colonialism. Or something like that.

Mark O said...

What a marvelous criminal "justice" system we have. Vast discretion in the hands of a prosecutor. Compare and contrast this with the misdemeanor charge against an Edwards donor.

Obama will do whatever it takes to silence critics. He's after Fox and Limbaugh again.

The Professor can tell you how much this chills speech.

Michael said...

Garage couldn't find suspicious circumstances in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre if Rahm Emanuel's wallet had been dropped at the scene.

Crimso said...

"Preetinder." Never a man more aptly named. Except for Dick Durbin.

Even if what D'Souza did had been legal, Obama's got a pen and a phone.

Frankns said...

Yes, Dinesh is likely guilty.

Yes, the prosecution is politically motivated.

The former is individual human failing. The later is organized, centralized intimidation.

Which concerns you more?

Bruce Hayden said...

Worrisome trend here. Most politized and probably corrupt DoJ probably ever. Only real question is whether AG Holder still has his hob because he is a fellow traveler, or whether he has the goods on Obama. The dept has apparently been applying litmus testing of all new attorneys since the two of them came to power. The few remaining moderates and conservatives are being pushed out. (And how do you get rid of all these zealot progressive and radical civil service attorneys after the two leave office? After all, they have civil service job protections)

It is bad enough that the DoJ doesn't think it strange, or even unethical, to appoint an Obama campaign donor to investigate Obama Administration meddling in the IRS witch hunt against tea party groups. Maybe because most of the attorneys there probably did the same. As was pointed out at NRO, was that in previous Administrations, this wouldn't have happened. It isn't that the attorney in charge might be unbiased, but rather, the appearance of impropriety. Doesn't matter any more in the DoJ.

The fact that the DoJ looks more and more like an adjunct for the DNC and Obama political organization is not good for its legitimacy. Why do they spend time investigating Republicans, but allow mega bundler Corzine to steal billions from his customers with impunity? Etc.

Matthew Sablan said...

If he's guilty, he should be more careful in the future. What, exactly, is the punishment? If it is overly harsh, maybe it'll be a signal for the majorities in Congress to get together and figure out a better way to handle this.

garage mahal said...

It doesn't seem like it's even possible to be a conservative unless some unseen, mysterious force is conspiring against you at every step of the way. Conservatism can never fail and a conservative can never do anything wrong. Ever.

Matthew Sablan said...

As to, is this politically motivated? Sadly, my faith in the prosecutorial discretion of the executive branch has been shattered. I'd like to say no, but I can't be certain.

somefeller said...

Garage, remember: conservatism can never fail the people, but the people can fail conservatism!

TM Lutas said...

Supposedly, this was discovered by a routine check. We don't know the check. We should.

If the information checked was all public (which I suspect it was), then a news group could re-run the check and compare it with prosecutions for the same crime. Would we find a partisan gap in the DoJ's use of prosecutorial discretion?

That would both be shocking and proper grounds for throwing the case out.

traditionalguy said...

Dinesh was raised with Indian family values where the clan all pools the $ to buy influence.

That is as political as it gets. But why the practice of politics was stopped by declaring it illegal is the question.

Dineseh needed a better group of poor
donors unafraid to lie to the Feds.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimso said...

"It is bad enough that the DoJ doesn't think it strange, or even unethical, to appoint an Obama campaign donor to investigate Obama Administration meddling in the IRS witch hunt against tea party groups."

They know damned good and well it stinks to high heaven, and that everybody else knows it. They're ramming it down your throat and forcing you to resent it.

What is it with this Administration and people who make films almost nobody saw? A pattern is developing.

And garage and somefeller, re conspiracies: Occam's Razor. Apply. When the political nature of audits and prosecutions are as plain as the nose on your face, conspiracies aren't being alleged. Corrupt misuse of power is.

PeterK said...

"It's a violation of federal campaign financing law to accept donations from non-US citizens as I understand it. "
IIRC D'Souza is an American citizen.

now I can't wait for the USDOJ to investigate the credit card donations that the Obama campaign accepted back in 2008

edutcher said...

To answer the question, does a swim duck?

The Feds pull this stuff all the time because the laws are so written anybody can be accused just for the appearance of wrongdoing (see Neil Bush) and still be found guilty.

PS Nice to see the Baghdad Bob of Althouse is till working on his obfuscation.

garage mahal said...

And garage and somefeller, re conspiracies: Occam's Razor. Apply. When the political nature of audits and prosecutions are as plain as the nose on your face, conspiracies aren't being alleged. Corrupt misuse of power is.

Why would Obama go after insignificant nutcases like d'Souza? Wouldn't Obama would want to keep people like him around spewing their idiotic nonsense that represent his enemies?

garage mahal said...

Same with the Tea Party. How many senate seats did they lose for Republicans?

Ann Althouse said...

"Laws that are written to prosecute only the act contemplated by the law and not the mental state to prove guilt are more likely to be unjustly applied. The lawyer seems to attempt a defense, in the press, that his client did not have the guilty mind. And somehow Althouse thinks such a defense is unwarranted?"

I think the relevant mental state is the intent to do the activity, not whether you meant to be a criminal!

somefeller said...

I think the relevant mental state is the intent to do the activity, not whether you meant to be a criminal!

It may be cold outside, but law school is in session!

Levi Starks said...

"They take campaign law violations very seriously"
as opposed to other violations of the law that just receive actively ignored.
As an entity of the executive branch, who makes the decisions on when to use prosecutorial discretion, and when to bring the hammer down?
Who choses who the investigators will be, and where there focus will be?
I guess that would be the president.

The Godfather said...

1. If the only basis for concluding that D'Souza is guilty is the statement by his attorney that he "did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever", I'd say we should reserve judgment. The context of that statement is not provided in the The Times story.

2. This prosecution shows the fallacy of campaign finance laws. These laws are supposed to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. If, as alleged, D'Souza donated several thousand dollars more than the allowed $5,000 to a Senate candidate, that in itself would not cause either corruption or an appearance of corruption. But this prosecution of a well-known critic of the Obama Administration surely gives not only the appearance of corruption but the stink of corruption.

Titus said...

I like brownies but he is extremely gross looking...physically. that face wow.

Heyooyeh said...

Althouse's blog is a great example of how one's desire to be cruelly neutral can be easily abandoned when one doesn't have the discipline to actually be neutral. She should be practicing before she starts preaching.

Crimso said...

"Why would Obama go after insignificant nutcases like d'Souza?"

I didn't say anything at all about Obama. You seem to be imagining that I'm imagining conspiracy theories. I will admit to having a vivid imagination, but it tends to lack paranoia. Probably because of the medications.

garage mahal said...

Bryan Fischer just tweeted a link to this post. LOL.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Rae said... Would.a Democrat be prosecuted under the same set of facts, is the question that needs to be asked.

Yes and no. The article says a Democrat lawyer did the same for John Edwards campaign and it was a misdemeanor.

Cliff said...

We are a nation of laws. This blog just got done jerking itself over how important laws are simply because a democrat used the term "also" in front of "a nation of laws" and now the blog is having a collective sad that a conservative is held accountable for breaking said laws.

David said...

"Personally, I avoid campaign finance because I think the law is set up to snag people on all sorts of weird details."

So the law is working as intended. It suppresses your participation and leaves it to the big players who (as Dinesh should have been) are all lawyered up.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

@Cliff

one of the laws is that we are all to be treated equally. there is ample evidence (IRS NPS DOJ) that the government is out if control and at war with conservatives.

That gives me a sad even though I'm nit a conservative.

garage mahal said...

I guess the federal probe on Bob Menedez is Obama just covering his tracks.

JackOfVA said...

"I think the relevant mental state is the intent to do the activity, not whether you meant to be a criminal!"

So, Althouse is walking through the back yard and sees a large brown and white feather on the ground. She picks it up with intent to pick it up and take possession and then gives it to Meade.

Question: How long should Althouse serve in federal prison for illegal possession of Raptor parts? 16 USC 703. Maximum penalty, $15,000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment. (Up to 2 years if offered for sale.)

And yes, I know these casual possession cases are not prosecuted unless it's intended to "send a message."

mccullough said...

The S&P case the government brought is also interesting. You have the head of McGraw-Hill, the parent company, accusing Geithner of threatening retaliation for S&P's downgrading of U.S. debt.

Geithner, the guy who intentionally evaded paying Social Security taxes. Not only was he not prosecuted, he was appointed Treasury Secretary. This administration is unbelievable.

edutcher said...

I take it innocent until proven guilty has now become a Conservative-only concept.

Bruce Hayden said...

They know damned good and well it stinks to high heaven, and that everybody else knows it. They're ramming it down your throat and forcing you to resent it.

The worry for me is that it has become so blatant. Their apparent justification? We won.

"Why would Obama go after insignificant nutcases like d'Souza?"

I would suggest that the purpose is the in terrorem effect of the prosecution. They picked him, along with other low lying fruit to scare the right into not fighting them as hard.

Ann Althouse said...

"If the only basis for concluding that D'Souza is guilty is the statement by his attorney that he "did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever", I'd say we should reserve judgment. The context of that statement is not provided in the The Times story."

I was concentrating on the part where the lawyer said "this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza"?

What was an act? Seems like he's conceding that the act that constitutes the crime was done. Maybe there's more to it, but that's the quote that made me say "I think it looks pretty much like a confession that D'Souza committed the criminal acts."

garage mahal said...

They picked him, along with other low lying fruit to scare the right into not fighting them as hard.

What about Bob Menedez?

Freder Frederson said...

But $20k. While the law has been broken - as obtuse as it may be - this isn't exactly the crime of the century, and doesn't justify such wasteful oversight.

So when someone deliberately (and I find it ridiculous that D'Souza wasn't aware of the campaign limits) exceeds the contribution limit by 8 fold, you don't think that crime should be pursued? I guarantee you if I got caught doing 160 mph in a 20 mph school zone I would be in deep shit.

Freder Frederson said...

The losers rue the day they entered the game because their "bundling activities" are crimes that will likely be prosecuted if discovered.

But of course D'Souza wasn't bundling.

Freder Frederson said...

As a naturalized American, couldn't they strip his US citizenship if he's convicted?

Don't be ridiculous. The only way he can have his U.S. citizenship stripped is if he lied about a material fact on his application. And generally that has only been reserved for war criminals (mostly Nazi) who lied about their past to get U.S. citizenship. Even if he committed treason, his citizenship could not and would not be stripped.

KLDAVIS said...

Althouse said: "I want to smoke..."

[Spit Take]

Freder Frederson said...

Althouse is walking through the back yard and sees a large brown and white feather on the ground. She picks it up with intent to pick it up and take possession and then gives it to Meade.

Well considering that Althouse has commented on this very law, her claim of ignorance would be very weak indeed.

I say prosecute her because she knows better.

It is unreasonable to contend D'Souza was unaware of the campaign limits. If he was why didn't he just make the contribution in his own name? That he made the contribution in his wife's, girlfriend's and several other names, demonstrates he knew that there was an individual limit.

Matthew Sablan said...

"That he made the contribution in his wife's, girlfriend's and several other names, demonstrates he knew that there was an individual limit."

-- Isn't that how bundling actually works? You, as a rich person, get a bunch of other people to give money, like a Girl Scouts' fundraiser?

The law is stupid, but as I said above, if he broke it, prosecute him. Just like with David Greggory, people should be subjected even to stupid laws until we change them.

Though, I doubt d'Souza will get a Greggory exemption to get out of jail free.

Freder Frederson said...

Isn't that how bundling actually works? You, as a rich person, get a bunch of other people to give money, like a Girl Scouts' fundraiser?

No it isn't. The allegation is not that D'Souza got his wife and girlfriend to contribute but he simply used their names to cover the contribution of his own money.

It shows incredible hubris or stupidity that D'Souza thought he could get away with such a transparent and clumsy violation of the law, especially considering there are so many other ways after Citizens United that he could have gotten around the limits.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

garage mahal said... They picked him, along with other low lying fruit to scare the right into not fighting them as hard.

What about Bob Menedez?


Of course the Menedez investigation us being headed up by one of his campaign donors.

SGT Ted said...

Every single congresscritter leaves office a millionaire and who is investigated for corruption by the DOJ?

Dinesh D'Souza! For 20k.

Of course this is bullshit.

Freder Frederson said...

I take it innocent until proven guilty has now become a Conservative-only concept.

Apparently from the comments, conservatives should never be prosecuted for crimes, because they are real Americans, or something.

Donald Douglas said...

You're on top at Memeorandum right now!

Matthew Sablan said...

Here's how Reuters characterizes it: "According to an indictment made public on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, D'Souza around August 2012 reimbursed people who he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate's campaign."

So, the people DID give the money of their own accord, then he later repaid them. He's only charged on a single account though, so the $20,000 number seems off, given the campaign limits.

We probably need to wait for more information, because it's not adding up [literally!]

Matthew Sablan said...

Freder: Several conservative commentators [including me!] are saying if there's a crime, he should be charged. But, it still has the appearance of a politically motivated attack. It just so happens, they may have actually caught someone with this fishing trip.

Freder Frederson said...

So, the people DID give the money of their own accord

Apparently your reading comprehension is pretty lousy since it says D'Souza directed them to give the money.

Matthew Sablan said...

Freder: Fundraising emails from campaigns direct me to give money. Are they committing crimes?

Freder Frederson said...

But, it still has the appearance of a politically motivated attack.

What on earth is this supposed to mean? That if something could possibly appear as a politically motivated attack it shouldn't be pursued. You would have the situation where a Republican administration could never pursue crimes by Democrats and vice versa.

Matthew Sablan said...

If I give someone a website to contribute to someone I think they should support, you could say I directed them to give money. Is that a crime?

The word directed just means what it means. We'll need an investigation to see if it means, in addition, what the prosecutors think it means.

Freder Frederson said...

Fundraising emails from campaigns direct me to give money.

Fundraising emails ask you, not direct you, to give money. They also don't tell you that if you contribute money now they will reimburse you later.

Matthew Sablan said...

"What on earth is this supposed to mean? That if something could possibly appear as a politically motivated attack it shouldn't be pursued"

-- It uh, means exactly what it says. Because of the poor handling of prosecutions by the executive branch means that for all we know, the only reason this -- of the many cases -- was chosen was politics. If he's found guilty, will it be like Ted Stevens or others who later get exonerated?

There's a higher bar for cases where there's an appearance of impropriety, which there is here.

He might be guilty, but only prosecuting the enemies of the current administration hurt the respect for the rule of law.

Matthew Sablan said...

"They also don't tell you that if you contribute money now they will reimburse you later."

-- Did he do that? Reuters just says that afterwards, he did. There's still a lot to learn about the case, so you should maybe wait a bit before getting the noose measured.

Freder Frederson said...

"direct" is different than "ask". "Direct" assumes a degree of compulsion or authority over the person you direct.

Your boss asking you if you can get something done by the end of the week is different that him directing you to have it on his desk by COB Friday.

Matthew Sablan said...

[And, also, no. The fundraising emails direct you to do something. In fact, the email gives you the exact instructions on how to do so. They are giving you, let's call them, directions.]

Matthew Sablan said...

If my boss asked me to do something, I think I'd catch a lot of flak for saying "Oh, it wasn't a direction. So I didn't."

The word is unclear what exactly happened. Which is why we need more information.

Paul said...

First off his defense is one of 'Mens Rea', absence of criminal intent.

As for the laws, as I have posted many times... the courts have said there is doctrine of EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW. And thus I feel it should include EQUAL ENFORCEMENT.

All laws should be equally enforced or there is no such thing as 'equal protection'.

Matthew Sablan said...

"First off his defense is one of 'Mens Rea', absence of criminal intent."

-- I don't think that matters; if he did it, he did it. It might work if he goes to a jury trial to try and get jurors to nullify the fact he broke the law, but jurors are rarely sympathetic to a rich person claiming to not know what he was doing with his piles of money was illegal.

somefeller said...

All laws should be equally enforced or there is no such thing as 'equal protection'.

So if someone gets away with a crime, no one else should be punished for also committing that crime?

Bob Ellison said...

I *think* the following statements are true:

1) I could give someone $10k (actually something more like $11k now) each year without incurring a taxable event on either side.

2) I could ask him to support various candidates under the $2.5k limit per person, and he could do so, without incurring any taxable or FEC-noteworthy event.

3) My wife could give him another $10k; lather, rinse, repeat.

4) Leftists have long supported campaign-finance restrictions far more than rightists.

5) "Bundling" is basically a shorthand term for getting together a bunch of names to escape the campaign-finance and tax laws. A Wall Street or Hollywood billionaire can't give the Hillary or Christie campaigns a million bucks without getting into trouble; he or she must disguise it through this fiction that we call "bundling".

6) D'Souza is apparently subject to arrest in NY. That kind of thing does have a "chilling effect" that causes most people to avoid donating or raising funds for election or mounting candidacies.

In short, leftists in the government are attacking D'Souza with criminal arrest in order to find him guilty of a ridiculous law that almost nobody in politics pays attention to and everyone knows is violated, in spirit, all the time.

chriswerry said...


Democrats faced charges exactly like this during the Bush admin. Pierce O'Donnel got 6 months i n jail (Hollywood big wig, fan of john Edwards, in 2004). You need to dial back the conspiracy theories and paranoia

Richard Dolan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Godfather said...

The word "directed" comes either from Reuters or (more likely) the indictment. It could just be a way of making a request sound evil. Let's not get so hung up on speculation at this point. Even the DA's press release reminds us that D'Souza is presumed innocent!

Frogwatch said...

They can always find legal ways to suppress dissent. They used to IRS to silent opposition in the election and will use all the force of govt to cause critics to become afraid. They will continue to do this until all dissent is unsaid and it is perfectly legal.
At what point do we agree that illegal action against the regime is needed? They have rigged the system so that there are no legal means available or if you try to use legal means they silence you with trumped up charges.
Should we simply stew in silence or take some kind of action? We will never convince the Dems as they are already believers in fascism. What action is left for believers in individual freedom?

Richard Dolan said...

"Since the legal minefield intimidates most of us out of engaging in fund-raising at all, those who do venture forth should be blown away by every infraction, don't you think?"

Nice statement of the reasons why campaign finance laws are problematic (or worse) under the 1st Amendment, particularly since the intimidation is a feature, not a bug, in the system. Same with the selective prosecution of D'Souza -- all feature, no bug.

Frogwatch said...

They can always find legal ways to suppress dissent. They used to IRS to silent opposition in the election and will use all the force of govt to cause critics to become afraid. They will continue to do this until all dissent is unsaid and it is perfectly legal.
At what point do we agree that illegal action against the regime is needed? They have rigged the system so that there are no legal means available or if you try to use legal means they silence you with trumped up charges.
Should we simply stew in silence or take some kind of action? We will never convince the Dems as they are already believers in fascism. What action is left for believers in individual freedom?

Matthew Sablan said...

"What action is left for believers in individual freedom?"

-- Vote? I mean, if they really were all that and a bag of chips, they'd've won a lot more than they did in the House.

Lance said...

The Washington Post is reporting that a John Edwards donor was only charged with a misdemeanor for the same crime in 2011.

"Straw-donor cases have been brought against prominnent individuals from time to time. For example, in 2011, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor chargest of making $20,000 in donations to the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards and reimbursing straw donors."

Matthew Sablan said...

$20,000 is the same amount D'Souza is accused of, so it isn't a value threshold. Maybe the law is stricter in New York than wherever the Edwards donor was [but then again, isn't this federal? Or does it change since D'Souza is accused of meddling with a state election as opposed to the national one?]

Michael said...

d'Souza is so fucked. He had better cop a plea immediately or he will be broke in short order. Can't defend yourself against a crack outfit with a 95% conviction rate. Shit odds. He is screwed w/out a kiss.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Otherwise it looks like these laws exist for the purpose of deterring political participation and to punish political enemies."

One should realize that the laws don't just work against members of the other party. They also work against potential challengers within one's own party. At least 90% of their effect is non-partisan pro-incumbent.

Sisyphus said...

Maybe D'Souza's lawyer is playing a more subtle game.

Let's assume D'Souza's lawyer's statement that D'Souza did not break the campaign laws with criminal or corrupt motives is true. Let's also assume that D'Souza did reimburse associates for contributions in straw men transactions.

If the only basis for Buckley v. Vallejo's limits on free speech and association rights are to avoid corruption, if there was no corruption or intent to corrupt, can this campaign contribution limit be Constitutionally applied in this context? (An as-applied, as opposed to facial, challenge).

I could see the Court allowing it as part of a broader system of regulation intended to prevent/deter corrupting campaign contributions. On the other hand, the majority of this Court has been somewhat hostile to free speech limits (see e.g. Citizens United), and they might very well read in a mens rea to save the statute if it were otherwise overbroad. And there's emerging evidence that campaign contributions in the majority of contexts are less likely to be corrupting than extortionate (by the politicians), though I have no idea how that should affect the analysis.

D'Souza is a sophisticated political player, so don't underestimate the possibility of a long game for him here, regardless of whether the prosecution was selective because of his political activities against the Administration or not.

DanTheMan said...

OK - Al Gore getting hundreds of thousands in cash and sequentially numbered money orders, most of which came from the Communist Chinese government

OK - Threating voters with billy clubs outside a polling place

Not OK - Bundling 20K in donations

Like Libya, this is just another form of a movie review. Two thumbs down from Justice on "2016"

SGT Ted said...

Thank you for your update, Ann. Apologies for thinking you were cool with this. I am glad I am wrong.

Freder Frederson said...

For example, in 2011, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor chargest of making $20,000 in donations to the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards and reimbursing straw donors

I'm too lazy to research it further, but I bet the initial indictment was for the felony and it was pled down to a misdemeanor. I bet the exact same thing happens in this case, unless D'Souza (stupidly) gets on his persecution high horse.

SGT Ted said...

All laws should be equally enforced or there is no such thing as 'equal protection'.

This.

Freder Frederson said...

So my curiosity got the better of me:

"In July 2008 federal prosecutors indicted O'Donnell on three felony counts charging that the lawyer reimbursed $26,000 to 13 of his firm’s employees and other individuals who donated to Edwards’s campaign."

The initial plea was for him to serve six months, the Judge rejected it as too harsh. The final plea was for sixty days, a fine and probation.

Lance said...

Looks like Pierce O'Donnell had problems with illegal donations even before the John Edwards incident.

Smilin' Jack said...

I think the relevant mental state is the intent to do the activity, not whether you meant to be a criminal!

It used to be that that there could be no crime without criminal intent. But that would make it inconvenient for the State to prosecute D'Souza, not to mention Ann's beloved marijuana laws. So now you're a criminal when the State says so.

heyboom said...

d'Souza is so fucked. He had better cop a plea immediately or he will be broke in short order. Can't defend yourself against a crack outfit with a 95% conviction rate. Shit odds. He is screwed w/out a kiss.

Just read the feds are seeking a $1,000,000 fine.

Freder Frederson said...

I could ask him to support various candidates under the $2.5k limit per person, and he could do so, without incurring any taxable or FEC-noteworthy event.

Only if he could say "Nah, I'd rather spend the money on hookers and coke" and you said, "okay, I gave you the money. You can do what ever you want with it.

Bob Ellison said...

Frederick, the word "give" has meaning.

Bob Ellison said...

Opps. I meant "Freder". Android auto-correct.

Michael said...

Heyboom: Well, d'Souza can elect to pay the million dollar fine or fight it to a cost of over a million in legal fees, the prospect of a year in jail plus the million dollar fine. Read Conrad Black's Matter of Principle to get a good inside look at what a U.S. prosecutor can do to you, your business, your assets and your freedom if they are so inclined. If you have a five percent chance of getting off once in the Federal system you are an idiot to fight unless you have vast resources. d'Souza clearly does not.

Richard said...

What makes this particularly inept on D'Souza's part is the fact that Citizen's United essentially rendered the need for this kind of stratagem moot. There are a million ways to get around this type of restriction as the Kochs and Karl Rove and Sheldon Adelson are well aware. That D'Souza does not just means he's not very smart.

I happen to think personal money in political campaigns leads to the political environment we have now (whether that's actual human person or corporate "person"): there's not a single politician within the city limits of Washington, D.C. that's not there because a large corporation or organization decided to put them there. The only way to ever make it even vaguely fair is to simply ban personally financed campaigns and level the playing field. If you're not going to do that, then restrictions like the one that tripped up D'Souza seem pretty arbitrary.

Bob Ellison said...

And waitaminute, Freder Frederson, under what system does anyone assume the right to tell anyone how to spend money on candidates? I really want to know.

Could it be that one should not be allowed to spend money to support a candidate for political office without the regulation and support of the government?

Bob Ellison said...

Richard said The only way to ever make it even vaguely fair is to simply ban personally financed campaigns and level the playing field.

And that would be how? You suggest no money from the candidate for his/her own campaign. That's level! No money from elsewhere? What about shouting on street corners? Should we outlaw that?

Jeebus, people are stupid on this subject. Campaign-finance laws are shit on wheels.

hombre said...

There is no chance, none, that the FBI was wasting its time randomly reviewing miscellaneous campaign contribution record.

The feds can't even be bothered to prosecute IRS miscreants.

They were after this guy. D'Souza may have violated the law, but political targeting is the worst corruption for a law enforcement agency.

Freder Frederson said...

under what system does anyone assume the right to tell anyone how to spend money on candidates? I really want to know.

Under the system that is in place in most advanced democracies, that's what system.

Currently, and IMHO tragically, we have a line of decisions that equates money with speech (i.e., the Supreme Court has said that spending money is a form of speech). That needs to change. Unfortunately, it would probably take a constitutional amendment to accomplish it.

Bob Ellison said...

Freder Frederson said, "Under the system that is in place in most advanced democracies, that's what system."

So an advanced democracy controls what people can say and advocate for?

I'm not laying a trap for you here, mind you. Just asking questions, like a good Socratic colleague.

hombre said...

garage: "I guess the federal probe on Bob Menedez is Obama just covering his tracks.

Allegations were made publicly. against Menendez that involved misuse of his office.

That is not analogous to the FBI supposedly stumbling across a campaign finance violation by a highly visible Obama detractor who is one of hundreds of thousands of contributors in NY.

Bob Ellison said...

You do have a point, Freder, in that I assume that the use of resources like money can be very similar to speech. I tend to equate the two. You seem to think that's awful. I think it's obvious and the only moral, logical conclusion.

So if that's your argument, then you win. If I can't buy to send my message, if you make that purchase illegal (which campaign-finance laws do), then I am a criminal who should be locked up.

Is that your argument? I can't put up a sign?

Michael said...

A proposition for the advancement of freedom.
1. Congress meets every other year for six months
2. Congress meets in a place of at least a five hour drive from a Palm Restaurant
3. Members of Congress will be compensated in the amount of one million dollars for every law they successfully sponsor the repeal of. No annual cap.
4. Members voting in the affirmative to repeal a law that is repealed are paid one hundred thousand dollars per law repealed. No annual cap.

We will be free at half the price in five years.

Freder Frederson said...

So an advanced democracy controls what people can say and advocate for?

"say and advocate" is not the same as "throw money at."

Matthew Sablan said...

"'say and advocate' is not the same as "throw money at.'"

-- Why do you want to take the ability of the poor to convene together, pool resources, and have a chance of speaking against the rich elites?

Chuck said...

Flamboyant Michigan personal injury attorney (one-time counsel to Jack Kevorkian) Geoffrey Fieger did much the same thing, on a much more industrial scale.

Fieger, who ran for Governor as a Democrat in a vanity campaign (he got trounced in the general) went to trial in the Eastern District of Michigan, with Gerry Spence as his attorney. He beat the rap, with what I always thought was the almost-inexplicable help of District Judge Paul Borman who instructed the jury that they needed to find specific intent on the part of Fieger to convict.

A fascinating case (more than $100,000 of laundered donations to the John Edwards for President campaign, through his law firm) and probably a lot more egregious than Dinesh D'Souza.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Fieger

Unknown said...

Bundlers!!!!1!

.. why wouldn't a government interested in the security of the American people investigate this bundler's ties to Al Queda?

http://www.examiner.com/article/far-left-obama-bundler-has-ties-to-al-qaeda

why wouldn't a government interested in fair and free markets and being the most ethical government in history investigate this tie to Healthcare dot gov meltdown?

Anthony Welters, a top campaign bundler for Obama and frequent White House guest, is the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, which owns the software company now at the center of the ObamaCare Web-site fiasco.

http://nypost.com/2013/11/01/obama-donors-firm-hired-to-fix-web-mess-it-helped-make/

Where's that 1.2 Billion missing from IMF????

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/jon-corzine-still-bundling-obama_640493.html

An organization headed by a campaign bundler who raised nearly $744,000 for Barack Obama was named a lead partner in a major administration anti-poverty initiative.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/01/13/organization-led-by-obama-bundler-wins-promise-zone/#ixzz2rMjJDUit

By all means, lets go after a conservative who exercised his free speech rights and attacked Obama.

pm317 said...

It's really quite unfair, when some candidates spent lots of money carefully avoiding violations of the law and forgo contributions that would violate the law, for another candidate to get away with violations.

Another candidate to get away with violations: hmmmm.. Obama!

Jupiter said...


Althouse, you are talking about an administration that flatly and openly refuses to enforce large numbers of laws. It does not claim that the laws are invalid. It merely notes that they are inconvenient. How can you question the utter and absolute corruption of these people?

Ken B said...

Your AND should be a BUT. It was Obama's site that was modified to not check the country.