Dinesh D’Souza indicted over alleged straw campaign donations

Details are all over; D’Souza, a well-known conservative commentator, is the author of a book criticizing President Obama in particularly harsh terms. Here’s what happened after a big-league trial lawyer got caught donating in others’ names to John Edwards in 2004 (“slap on wrist“). More: Ken White, Popehat; Ann Althouse.

Further: Alison Frankel at Reuters on how laundering/straw donor charges are brought “surprisingly frequently” with less than clear patterns of who gets off with civil settlements and who gets indicted (& thanks for cite).

And more: I didn’t do as good a job of explaining the link to our 2006 post as I might, and some readers have misinterpreted it. As reported there, the John Edwards campaign paid only a $9,500 civil fine for accepting the illegal contributions. The lawyer and law firm that arranged the donations paid a larger fine of $50,000, several times the size of the offending contributions, in a civil (not criminal) penalty.


  • […] Dept. of Justice indicts a prominent Obama critic on campaign finance charge [Ira Stoll; more above] […]

  • Though note that one of the Edwards contributor’s violations was using a corporate credit card to make a donation. That’s now legal under Citizens United, as it should be.

  • Whoops, I meant that a corporate direct contribution is: “NOT legal under Citizens United, as it should be.”

  • The rule of law is a delicate thing. Oy.

  • […] Dinesh D’Souza with violating campaign finance laws, Walter Olson at the Overlawyered blog posted on the relatively mild civil sanction meted out to a “big-league trial lawyer” […]

  • […] note by W.O. [editor], Jan. 25, 2014: This archival post has drawn reader interest in light of more recent straw-donor enforcement controversies. It is worth noting that while the Edwards campaign paid only […]

  • Just a thought…

    If you don’t want to be indicted for felonies after speaking out against an administration, maybe you should first see you don’t go committing felonies.

    No one at D’Souza’s level is unaware that what he did was illegal, and while he might be the victim of selective prosecution, it doesn’t change the fact that he did probably do what they say he did.

  • […] Dinesh D’Souza with violating campaign finance laws, Walter Olson at the Overlawyered blog posted on the relatively mild civil sanction meted out to a “big-league trial lawyer” who’d done […]

  • Scott,

    I don’t have an issue with your overriding point. If you can’t do the crime, don’t do the time.

    I do have a huge problem in that the FBI seems to have targeted this guy for his political activities. It is one thing to come across wrongdoing in the course of normal activities. It is another to say “dig into this guy’s life and find something.”

  • Obama himself has violated the campaign finance laws on two different occasions, but he never had himself arrested for doing so:


    Obama supporters will go hysterical over this well sourced list of 545 examples of his lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc.

    543) Had a double standard for arresting people who violate campaign finance laws

    In January 2014, Dinesh D’Souza was arrested for violating campaign finance laws.

    However, even though Obama himself had violated campaign finance laws on two different occasions (see here and here), Obama never had himself arrested.

    Obama had previously said “We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends.” Given that D’Souza is a conservative activist who had released a movie called “2016: Obama’s America,” which had been heavily critical of Obama, I have to wonder what Obama’s real reason for arresting him was.

  • Gitarcarver – is there some positive evidence that the FBI or other feds targeted him for his political activities?

  • Mr. Olson,

    No, it was a bad overreach on my part. Perhaps it is more of a case of a feeling that we have been down this road before with the IRS scandals (both in the past and continuing) , the often curious decisions that seem to be ideological based from the DOJ, the fact that we are still waiting for a final finding from the FBI to the DOJ on whether George Zimmerman should be prosecuted (again), and the idea that it seems that many of these types of cases where there is no harm to people or taxpayers seem to be settled on the civil side of the law rather than on the criminal side.

    My comment reflect both a bit of a small tinfoil hat and a growing lack of distrust in the system which I grew up believing (apparently wrongfully) to be blind to such things as party affiliation and previous comments.

    My apologies for the accusation. It was not based on any objective fact but rather reflects a sense of frustration and mistrust.

    Finally, please be assured that I am not looking to dismiss D’Souza’s actions if they are illegal. He doesn’t get a pass on breaking the law because of what he said in the past.