President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he intends to grant a pardon to conservative documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza was convicted in 2014 after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations.
A federal judge sentenced D’Souza to five years of probation with eight months in a community confinement center after he admitted to having “straw donors” donate thousands of dollars to New York Republican Wendy Long, a longtime acquaintance of his who was running for Senate in 2012. D’Souza reimbursed the donors, which put him in violation of federal law that prohibits making donations in someone else’s name. One of the reasons this is forbidden is because there are maximum amounts that individuals are allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and this is meant to prevent people from getting around that restriction by using others as proxies. At the time, the maximum allowed per person was $5,000.
According to prosecutors, D’Souza had two people contribute the maximum along with their spouses ($10,000 per couple, totaling $20,000), and then gave each of them $10,000 in reimbursements.
D’Souza claimed during the case that he was being unfairly prosecuted by federal prosecutors, but the judge ruled that he had provided no evidence to support this. The case was prosecuted in the Southern District of New York, where the U.S. Attorney at the time was Preet Bharara, who Trump fired soon after becoming president.
The conservative D’Souza gained notoriety for his anti-Obama stance that was the basis of his 2012 documentary 2016: Obama’s America. Released prior to the 2012 election, the film painted a bleak picture of international affairs that could come to pass should Obama serve a second term. Four years later, he put out Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, which heavily criticized Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party as a whole.
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