In the latest strange move out of the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a prominent political critic of President Obama, author Dinesh D'Souza, has been indicted. From the press release:
In 2012, the Election Act limited both primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 for a total of $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In August 2012, D'SOUZA directed other individuals with whom he was associated to make contributions to the campaign committee for a candidate for the United States Senate (the "Campaign Committee") that totaled $20,000. D'SOUZA then reimbursed those individuals for the contributions. ...
D'SOUZA, 52, of San Diego, California, is charged with one count of causing $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to be made to a candidate for the United States Senate in calendar year 2012, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. He also is charged with one count of causing false statements to be made to the FEC in connection with the illegal campaign contributions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The $5,000 contribution is almost certainly an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech, and choosing to enforce it as a criminal matter in an election as lopsided as Wendy Long's defeat at the hands of Kirsten Gillibrand in New York is quite a prosecutorial decision. Sure, even losing campaigns and outspoken political critics of the president must obey the law, and I'm not suggesting they should be entirely immune from prosecution. One of the donations at issue appears to be a $10,000 contribution on August 30, 2012 from Denise Joseph, a person who Mr. D'Souza was reportedly describing at the time as his fiancee. I don't know the details of Mr. D'Souza's personal life, but if had gotten married his wife could then have donated herself from their joint assets perfectly legallly. The whole thing, even if it arose in a nonpartisan and professional way, has the look of the Obama administration going after an outspoken political opponent.
The press release dated January 23 announcing the charges has a URL that includes the date January 14, suggesting the Justice Department sat on the release for a week or so.