Leave a Comment

About a year and a half ago, conservative author and commentator Dinesh D’Souza had a moment. His documentary 2016: Obama’s America unexpectedly took the box office by storm, netting more than thirty million dollars and exposing audiences to some very, very hard right theories about our President and the supposed lingering influence of his militant father. Unfortunately for D’Souza, he’s having another moment right now, and this one doesn’t seem nearly as appealing.

According to The New York Times, D’Souza was officially indicted yesterday for making illegal campaign contributions. It’s obviously all alleged behavior at this point, but basically, prosecutors think D’Souza used straw donors to funnel money to Republican Wendy Long’s campaign back in 2012. He allegedly sought out various friends, encouraged them to donate money and reimbursed them out of his own pocket, to the tune of $20,000.

Campaign finance law is extremely complicated. Between PACs and Super PACs and various arbitrary limits to individual candidates, it’s nearly as complicated as Hollywood accounting practices. In short, donors aren’t allowed to fork over more than $5000 to individual candidates. D’Souza reportedly reached his limit early on and allegedly got a little too forceful in his support of Long, who was a Dartmouth classmate and reportedly remains a close friend. If the FEDs are to be believed, however, Long herself allegedly had no knowledge of the illegal activities. She was later blown out in her race by Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

It’s a little surprising the Federal Government would put energy into a case like this given we’re only talking about $20,000, but now and again, the powers that be like to make an example out of someone in the public eye, assumedly to fire a warning shot at everyone else who might be thinking of doing the same sort of thing. That’s happened a few times recently with insider trading, but then again, it’s also possible this D’Souza case simply fell into their laps via a witness in another case or an overlapping investigation.

Regardless of whether he’s convicted or not, it’s probably worth noting that the basic story of anti-Obama documentarian accused of illegally funneling money to Republican causes is a little too simplistic to accurately represent the facts. D’Souza reportedly didn’t donate any money to any other candidates in 2012, and because of his long-standing relationship with Long (he even hosted a fundraiser for her), it makes a little more rational sense why he would allegedly bend the rules to help her out. Personal biases always matter more than ideologies, whether the more radical among us are comfortable admitting it or not.

At this point, it’s unclear how the indictment might affect D’Souza’s upcoming documentary America. The film has promised to depict how the world would look if the United States never defeated the British, but given his track record, it’s likely the film would be far more interested in drawing a parallel to the current political atmosphere rather than address that fascinating historical what-if.