Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative author and director of “2016: Obama’s America,” a documentary sharply critical of the president, has been indicted on charges of making illegal contributions to a 2012 Senate campaign, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced Thursday.
The indictment was filed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos, who accuse Mr. D’Souza of directing $20,000 in campaign contributions to a 2012 Senate candidate, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which limits primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 each from an individual to any one candidate.
“Trying to influence elections through bogus campaign contributions is a serious crime. Today, Mr. D’Souza finds himself on the wrong side of the law,” Mr. Venizelos said.
“As we have long said, this office and the FBI take a zero-tolerance approach to corruption of the electoral process,” said Ms. Bharara. “If, as alleged, the defendant directed others to make contributions to a Senate campaign and reimbursed them, that is a serious violation of federal campaign finance laws.”
Mr. D’Souza, 52, faces seven years behind bars if found guilty.
The news website Gawker notes that though Ms. Bharara doesn’t name the candidate to whom Mr. D’Souza directed the money, Reuters identified her as Wendy Long, a Republican lawyer who lost against Kirsten Gillibrand.
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Prosecutors said the criminal case resulted from a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings by various candidates after the Senate race.
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said Mr. D’Souza didn’t act “with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever.”
He said, “It is important to note that the indictment does not allege a corrupt relationship between Mr. D’Souza and the candidate. There was never a corrupt agreement of any kind, nor was there any request made that the candidate take any action or refrain from taking any action as a candidate, or as a U.S. senator if her political campaign were to have been successful.”
Mr. D’Souza, of San Diego, is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Manhattan on Friday.
Mr. D’Souza was a policy analyst under President Reagan and a prolific author known most recently for his critical works on Mr. Obama.
He was writer, director and star of the documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” one of the most successful political documentaries ever released, grossing more than $32 million.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.