Is the key to violating campaign finance laws to the left is who violated them? If it is someone like the Clintons, all is forgiven and Bill Clinton’s chief campaign finance advisor is hired to run the Brennan Center. If it is someone who is critical of Barack Obama, well then all hell breaks loose. Andrew McCarthy details some of this in his review of Dinesh D’Souza’s new book “Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party.”
To be clear Dinesh D’Souza did break the law and deserved to be fined.
D’Souza forthrightly concedes that he violated the law. Wendy Long, his good friend and Dartmouth classmate, was waging a futile campaign against incumbent U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.). With the press of business leaving him unable to be more of a campaign presence, D’Souza decided to provide financial support. He had, however, already donated the personal maximum of $10,000. So he convinced two friends to be nominal contributors, with D’Souza reimbursing them the combined $20,000.
While D’Souza is guilty, he did not do so as a quid pro quo. He also did not do so to gain favor as so many Democrat donors have done from the Riadys to the Clintons, to the donors to the Obama campaign in 2008 (fined only), the IRS employees who went after tea party groups, etc. D’Souza was merely overly eager to support a friend who had no hope in winning her Senate Race. Normally this would not be a big deal. However, D’Souza had released a book and a documentary critical of President Obama. Thus, Obama’s Department of Justice came down hard on D’Souza.
It is no coincidence, D’Souza convincingly argues, that the Obama Justice Department scorched the earth to convict and attempt to imprison him. The brazenness of its aggression took the breath away from such hardened criminal-defense attorneys as Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz, an Obama supporter who found the vindictiveness of D’Souza’s prosecution shameful, and Benjamin Brafman, the legendary New York City defense lawyer who represented D’Souza.
The political progressive Brafman went from almost dismissing D’Souza as an Obama conspiracy theorist, to becoming a believer that D’Souza prosecution was another vengeful attempt by liberals to silence the speech of their critics.
Among the highlights of the book is the transformation of Brafman, another political progressive, who started out believing that D’Souza was paranoid to think that the president of the United States even cared about his case, much less had it in for him, but ended up convinced that D’Souza had been railroaded. The conclusion is inescapable: His client was indicted in a matter routinely disposed of with a fine; to get bail, D’Souza had to post a bond of $500,000 (i.e., $125,000 more than the mere fine the Justice Department allowed the Obama 2008 campaign to pay in settlement of violations geometrically larger than D’Souza’s); to pressure D’Souza to plead guilty, prosecutors gratuitously charged a second felony count — a “false statements” offense that should not have been added since a campaign-finance violation necessarily involves a false statement; after D’Souza did plead guilty — rather than risk seven years’ imprisonment — Justice pressed the court to impose a 16-month jail sentence despite the de minimis nature of the crime; and, in so pressing, prosecutors blatantly misrepresented the applicable sentencing law.
The last straw for Brafman was the start of the sentencing hearing, when Judge Richard Berman subjected D’Souza to a bizarre tongue-lashing. Clearly, the jurist appointed by President Bill Clinton was poised to accede to prosecutors’ demand for a prison term. The outraged lawyer responded with a tour de force, placing the case and D’Souza’s basic decency in context. It worked: Berman was dissuaded from imposing a prison term.
So with an illegal but pointless attempt by an Obama critic to help a friend in a hopeless Senate race the Obama Department of Justice comes down with full force. However, when the IRS attempts to stop the efforts of a number of conservative tea party groups in an effort to influence a Presidential election, the Department of Justice does nothing. The left is at war with free speech and the D’Souza case is just another example of their efforts to chill free speech.