Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza has been indicted on federal charges of violating campaign finance laws, the the U.S attorney in Manhattan announced on Thursday.
The indictment accused D’Souza of participating in a straw donation scheme to funnel money to an unnamed Senate campaign. He was charged with one count of making more than $10,000 of contributions in the names of others and one count of causing false statements.
The indictment alleged D’Souza “knowingly made and caused to be made” contributions “in the names of others” during 2012. According to the indictment, D’Souza then “reimbursed others with whom he was associated and who he had directed to contribute a total of $20,000 to the campaign.”
Though the Senate candidate that received the alleged donations was not named, TPM has learned the campaign in question was that of Wendy Long, a Republican attorney who in 2012 lost to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The indictment said the campaign was unaware of D’Souza’s activities.
In a written statement released on Thursday, D’Souza’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, argued that “at worst, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza.”
“It is important to note that the Indictment does not allege a corrupt relationship between Mr. D’Souza and the candidate,” Brafman said. “There was never a corrupt agreement of any kind, nor was there any request made that the candidate take any action or refrain from taking any action as a candidate, or as a US Senator if her political campaign were to have been successful. […] Simply put, there was no ‘quid pro quo’ in this case, nor was there even any knowledge by the candidate that Campaign Finance Rules may have been violated. 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 worst, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza.”
Long did not immediately respond to a call for comment. D’Souza forwarded a copy of his attorney’s statement by email but did not respond to questions.
“D’Souza caused the submission by an unwitting authorized campaign committee of a candidate for the United States Senate to the FEC of reports that falsely reported the sources and amounts of contributions to the campaign by certain individuals,” the indictment said.
Federal Election Commission records show D’Souza, his one-time wife and a woman he once described as his fiancee all donated to Long’s campaign. (In October 2012, D’Souza said he and his wife filed for divorce after he admitted he was dating the other woman.) It’s unclear which, if any, of the donations were connected to the indictment, though the women’s donations total $20,000.
The records show D’Souza gave $5,000 the campaign in two separate donations both dated March 16, 2012. The records also show his then-wife, Dixie D’Souza, gave $5,000 to Long’s campaign in two separate donations on the same day.
D’Souza’s fiancee, Denise Odie Joseph, gave $15,000 to Long, according to the records. Joseph made a $10,000 donation to Long on Aug. 30, 2012. She gave another $5,000 to Long on Oct. 22, 2012. On May 3, 2013, the Long campaign gave Joseph a $5,000 refund.
Election laws limit the amount an individual can give a candidate to $2,500 for a primary and $2,500 for general election campaign for a total maximum donation of $5,000. Neither Joseph nor Dixie immediately responded to requests for comment from TPM.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, D’Souza “is expected to be presented and arraigned tomorrow in Manhattan federal court.”
D’Souza faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The contributions charge carries a maximum five-year sentence while the false statements charge carries a maximum two.
Read the indictment:
This post has been updated.