Lady Justice’s blindfold sometimes slips. No argument about that. But now she has thrown it aside to prosecute — some would say persecute — Dinesh D’Souza, a successful conservative author and filmmaker, on flimsy charges of violating campaign finance law. Whether guilty or not, the fact that Mr. D’Souza has been singled out for prosecution while others skate past freely reveals President Obama’s thumb on the famous lady’s scale.
Mr. D’Souza, a sharp but respectful critic of the president, goes on trial Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Manhattan charged with using “straw donors” to bypass federal campaign finance limits. These are the limits that the U.S. Supreme Court has been finding incompatible with the First Amendment. Nevertheless, prosecutors say Mr. D’Souza arranged for others to donate $20,000 to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a personal friend. By reimbursing them, they allege, he circumvented the $5,000 legal limit. He faces the prospect of two years in prison for what his lawyer calls “an act of misguided friendship.”
Life in the Third World teaches some people to despise America, but not Mr. D’Souza. He embraced the promise of freedom when he arrived in America as an exchange student from his native India. He found his political home among conservatives at Dartmouth College in the 1980s, and strengthened his convictions at the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. Unabashed in his faith, he wrote several books of Christian apologetics including “What’s So Great about Christianity?” which made him an icon of the right and a pain in the nether regions of those on the left.
Mr. D’Souza’s relentless criticism of the effect that Mr. Obama and his relentless campaign to transform America into a close semblance of failed cultures elsewhere has put the filmmaker in the prosecutorial crosshairs. He wrote “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” in 2010 and produced “2016: Obama’s America” in 2012, the second-highest-grossing U.S. documentary film ever. He is, say his lawyers, “a sharp critic of the Obama presidency who has incurred the president’s wrath.”
Indeed, four Republican senators wrote to FBI Director James Comey in February, pointing out how convenient it was to use the Justice Department to take out one of the administration’s most prominent critics. The senators quoted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal who said, “I can’t help but think that [Mr. D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it… . It smacks of selective prosecution.” U.S. District Judge Richard Berman swept away such objections last Thursday, saying “the court concludes the defendant has respectfully submitted no evidence he was selectively prosecuted.” It’s clear who’s wearing a blindfold now.
The Justice Department that would imprison Mr. D’Souza for two years for giving unfair advantage to a friend’s political campaign declined to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party for threatening white voters with nightsticks at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was itself fined $375,000 in 2013 for failing to disclose millions of dollars in contributions and missing deadlines for refunding millions in excess contributions. No one was threatened with prison for that. (That was different, of course.)
Whether Dinesh D’Souza is found guilty or not guilty, there’s scant doubt that in Mr. Obama’s America, Lady Justice has retired her blindfold and pledged her sword to the president.