India-born conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pled guilty to campaign fund fraud on Tuesday after failing to get the case thrown out for selective prosecution.
D’Souza, 53, pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court the day he was to go on trial. He faces a maximum jail term of two years. His sentencing is scheduled for September.
D’Souza, 52, is the maker of “2016: Obama’s America”, a film that argues that President Obama will weaken the country because of his early influences including his Kenyan father.
The film was released close to the 2012 presidential election and became hugely popular with conservatives, running at its peak in over 1,000 theaters nationally.
D’Souza was born in Mumbai and came to the US as an exchange student. And stayed on, becoming a conservative while still in college, at Dartmouth.
He went on to work in President Ronald Reagan’s White House.
D’Souza’s lawyer and conservatives had alleged he was being selectively prosecuted by the Obama administration for his politics and his strident criticism of the president.
The Manhattan court dismissed his claim for lack of evidence.
And he pleaded guilty.
Under US campaign laws one person can contribute only up to $5,000 per candidate. D’Souza used “straw donors” (fronts) to pay a 2012 Republican candidate for senate a lot more.
He contributed $5,000, then another $5,000 on behalf of his wife. And he had two other people pay the campaign another $10,000 each, for themselves and their spouses.
He reimbursed them that money the next day.
D’Souza “admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids”, said the office of Preet Bharara, US attorney for Southern district of New York.
“As our Office's record reflects, we will investigate and prosecute violations of federal law, particularly those that undermine the integrity of the democratic electoral process, without regard to the defendant's political persuasion or party affiliation,” said Bharara.