Dinesh D'Souza's Sentence Isn't Remarkable

Recently I wrote about political pundit Dinesh D'Souza's selective prosecution claim and about the support for him at sentencing. Today a federal judge sentenced him to five years probation, eight months of that in a community confinement center, community service, and "therapeutic counseling."

A few comments:

1. The sentence isn't remarkable at all. Both sides agreed on the sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Though the recommended sentence under those guidelines was 10-16 months, the judge had discretion to go lower or higher. Probation with a term of home detention or "community confinement" is a very common approach to a nonviolent first offender with a low guideline range. For a 53-year-old with no record, this is roughly in the middle of the array results I would expect. In a case like this I would have shot for probation conditioned on home confinement but told the client that a short term in custody or a term in "community confinement" was a strong possibility. You may see it as unreasonably lenient or hash, but federal criminal practitioners won't.

2. A "community confinement center" sounds Orwellian, but it's just a halfway house. It's like a halfway house used for recovering addicts. Imagine a slightly dingy and run-down house in a not-quite-good neighborhood, with a group of people and someone on staff usually there. Being in a halfway house means that for eight months D'Souza will have to sleep there, but will be allowed to leave to go to work, church, and the doctor, or to other activities permitted by the house supervisors.

3. "Therapeutic counseling" sounds Orwellian but isn't. The BOP doesn't have people to counsel you on politics. Counseling as a condition of probation is typical. Available counseling includes drug, alcohol, marital, parenting, anger management, psychological, and so forth. I don't know what particular element of D'Souza's background resulted in the counseling condition, but there's absolutely no basis to jump to the conclusion that it's meant to reeducate him.

Remember: usually you can't rely on media reports of criminal justice events.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    The Orwellian part, obviously, is that Dinesh will have to spend time with poor people, particularly those who are not servants. It will be like a tattered sneaker in his face, forever.

  2. Bret says

    I find it remarkable that this sentence isn't remarkable. Confinement and counseling for violating campaign finance laws for a 1st time offender? Probation and a fine seems appropriate.

  3. says

    From experience, not enough bad things can happen to Dinesh D'Souza.

    Everything you need to know about Dinesh D'souza's lack of moral compass, complete sanctimony and general awfulness in one episode.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/dinesh-dsouza-indictment-dartmouth-outed-gay-classmates

    Tony Jones (Dartmouth Class of '90), a movement conservative who wrote for the Dartmouth Review, has a nice pithy takedown of D'Souza as a self-promoting fraud.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2012/10/25/the-conservative-allure-of-the-pseudo-intellectual/

    D'Souza has lived his life breaking the rules in pursuit of Mammon under the cover of a holier-than-thou persona.

  4. Jeff Ryan says

    Counseling? Of course he gets counseling. That is the new default mode for corrections, even though there is next to no evidence that counseling of almost any sort does a damned thing.

    I agree the sentence is unremarkable for both the offense and the offender (meaning, first-timer, irrespective of political addiction). Michael Shermer notwithstanding, the guy's a douche, but mainly for his utter cluelessness and ability to parlay ignorance into money-making, if sincere, propagandizing. The only thing that would open his eyes is a sentence to a state prison, but that ain't gonna happen. And probably shouldn't, no matter how insufferable he may be.

  5. says

    Of course, D'Souza was singled out for this prosecution because of his political views and free and effective expression of them. Read LICENSED TO LIE: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice to see how the DOJ works. It read likes a legal thriller but it's true and names names. I personally know many Democrats who do this routinely and specifically did it to elect Obama.

  6. Clay White says

    I wonder why he decided to enter a Guilty Plea without a prearranged deal? I could see him pleading to some misdemeanor paperwork day, but not to a felony. If he was found guilty, I doubt he would have gotten a worse sentence and would still have the opportunity to appeal. That would be really helpful to him after the Citizen's United case came out.

  7. Peter H says

    I find it remarkable that this sentence isn't remarkable. Confinement and counseling for violating campaign finance laws for a 1st time offender? Probation and a fine seems appropriate.

    For a knowing, wanton, and unrepentant violation of those laws, this seems about right. He knew what he was doing was illegal, told his conspirators to lie about it, forged his ex-wife's signature and remained unrepentant throughout the process. He is also quite wealthy, and the maximum fine of $200,000 would probably not be a sufficient deterrent on its own.

  8. Castaigne says

    @Sidney Powell:

    Of course, D'Souza was singled out for this prosecution because of his political views and free and effective expression of them.

    At first, I was going to dismiss you as a WND-style crank pimping her book and making a ridiculous claim to do so. But, as usual, I did some Googling on your name to get a sense of what's up with you, and so I'm refraining for the moment.

    Preet Bharara is the prosecutor in question. He is a noted prosecutor of public corruption and financial fraud. He has prosecuted both Republicans AND Democrats for the exact same type of crime that Dinesh D'Souza admitted to and plead guilty for; he has, in fact, prosecuted more Democrats for it.

    Knowing that there is no question D'Souza committed the crime, what evidence/reason do you provide that the prosecution was selective? Why do you think U.S. District Judge Richard Berman concluded that there was no evidence to support D’Souza’s allegations of selective prosecution?

    Also, can you say that you are not biased in favor of Mr D'Souza, even when it is apparent from your Twitter feed that you are at least well acquainted and in agreement with his viewpoints?

    I look forward to your responses.

  9. Matthew Cline says

    @Castaigne:

    Preet Bharara is the prosecutor in question. He is a noted prosecutor of public corruption and financial fraud. He has prosecuted both Republicans AND Democrats for the exact same type of crime that Dinesh D'Souza admitted to and plead guilty for; he has, in fact, prosecuted more Democrats for it.

    Knowing that there is no question D'Souza committed the crime, what evidence/reason do you provide that the prosecution was selective?

    Does the rule about selective prosecution apply at the aggregate level of all prosecutors, or the level of the particular prosecutor in question? If it applies at the aggregate/general level, it doesn't matter what track record Preet Bharara has.

  10. Mikee says

    @ Marconi Darwin

    As unremarkable as Martha Stewart's sentence?

    What's remarkable about her sentence? Considering she was only convicted of conspiracy, obstruction, and two counts of lying to a federal investigator. The judge threw out the most serious charge, the one that everyone thinks she was actually convicted of, you know, the securities fraud, and she was found not guilty of lying about the previously arranged agreement to sell at $60. Use your own link, but scroll up a few paragraphs.

  11. says

    Remember: usually you can't rely on media reports of criminal justice events.

    Is there any topic where we can usually rely on the media? Finance/economics reporting is just as bad as reporting on legal issues. Coverage of politics is so bad it is hard to distinguish from satire. The science sections of most news sites is usually a horror show.

  12. PonyAdvocate says

    @ Bret

    I find it remarkable that this sentence isn't remarkable. Confinement and counseling for violating campaign finance laws for a 1st time offender? Probation and a fine seems appropriate.

    My understanding is that between being charged and being sentenced, Mr. D'Souza spent a fair amount of time spouting off in the media about the unfairness of it all. Officially, perhaps the justice system is not supposed to take notice of this, but practically, it may have made him less sympathetic than if he had indulged in a little strategic groveling, and resulted in a more severe sentence than he might otherwise have received. IIRC, Mr. White alluded briefly to this in an earlier post on this subject.

  13. AlphaCentauri says

    Whether a sentence is reasonable or not, it's pretty hard to do anything that will deter other narcissists, because they don't think they are subject to the same rules as anyone else.

  14. Fasolt says

    @Robert:

    I can think of three topics when it comes to newspapers. The horoscopes, the comic page, and the Mastheads are usually free of errors. Every now and then they get my horoscope wrong. ;)

  15. Anonymous says

    @Robert

    Is there any topic where we can usually rely on the media? Finance/economics reporting is just as bad as reporting on legal issues. Coverage of politics is so bad it is hard to distinguish from satire. The science sections of most news sites is usually a horror show.

    I am an automation engineer in the pharmaceutical business with family/friends in banking, medicine and on welfare. Our collected opinions are that you cannot trust the news on engineering, pharmaceutics, banking, medicine or welfare.

    Honestly, the takeaway is that you should at all times stay away from the news. True information about the world comes in "primary sources" and "opinions about primary sources" (which is where I class Popehat). Newspapers are more "lies and/or misunderstandings about primary sources."

    @Bret

    I find it remarkable that this sentence isn't remarkable. Confinement and counseling for violating campaign finance laws for a 1st time offender? Probation and a fine seems appropriate.

    Huh, interesting. Personally, I am aligned the other way – campaign finance gets classed along with fraud and treason as behavior likely to ruin the country, far worse than mere violence, and far more likely to have been premeditated.

  16. Joel says

    @Robert

    In short, no. Ken's written before about the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Assume that traditional news has the facts wrong on pretty much every count except perhaps that an event transpired involving the mentioned individuals (and even that is often wrong). For all the "debates" about bloggers vs. legitimate journalism, you can find a lot more well-researched and well-presented facts on specialized blogs than you will from "real journalism".

  17. says

    @PonyAdvocate

    Judge Berman made a specific reference to D'Souza's media blitz and his unwillingness to accept guilt/responsibility for his actions when he handed down the sentence. D'Souza's inability to keep his trap shut definitely contributed to his receiving a somewhat stiffer sentence than he might have otherwise.

  18. Paul Baxter says

    I just want to throw in that I always appreciate, as a non-lawyer, these sorts of basic explanations of how our courts and justice system work. You do a great job of explaining these sorts of things in a clear way.

  19. PonyAdvocate says

    @ Anton Sirius

    Thanks for the information, of which I was unaware. I wonder: if Mr. D'Souza's pre-sentencing media tour was described in a sentencing report, I understand that the judge can consider it. But what if there was nothing about Mr. D'Souza's media tour officially before the court? Suppose the judge just saw Mr. D'Souza on TV, and thought to himself, "I should nail that little prick to the cross." Is it proper for him to take into account his personal out-of-court observations when he determines the sentence?

    Anyway, I guess Mr. D'Souza should feel fortunate he didn't get a maximum allowable sentence, to be spent breaking rocks.

  20. Jason says

    This problem I have is not with the sentence here, but with the crime.

    It is legal to give people money as a gift. You can give someone money, up to $10,000, tax free. So that part of what Dinesh did is legal.

    It is ALSO legal to encourage your friends to donate to political causes.

    Of course, as we've seen with this case, it is apparently illegal to do both of these things in sequence. I refrain from saying together because we have laws against drinking AND driving and texting AND driving, but these things Dinesh did are not like that. His case would be analogous in my opinion to drinking on one day and driving on another and still getting a DUI.

  21. OmegaPaladin says

    Mr. D'Souza has written some quite interesting books – not all of which I agree with, naturally, but still interesting. He's also made some some decent political movies – like a right-wing Michael Moore. In the books that I've read and interviews, he doesn't seem to have these horrendous qualities attributed to him. The first commenter is just silly – when, exactly, has he stated hatred for the poor?

    I'm confident that he'll be able to bounce back – his star has only risen among his target audience. He'll probably write a book about it, and get back any of his legal fees.

  22. Doctor X says

    So he will be free to continue to go on Fox News and rant about how he is a victim.

    Awesome.

    Maybe in the halfway house . . . I mean . . . "community confinement," someone will explain science to him.

  23. James Hanley says

    Is there any topic where we can usually rely on the media?

    It's my understanding that they usually get the sports scores right. But given how badly they do everything else, I have a sneaking suspicion the Cubs actually have won a few World Series and the media just reported it all wrongly.

  24. rabbitscribe says

    Of course, as we've seen with this case, it is apparently illegal to do both of these things in sequence.

    Yes, apparently it is. Otherwise there would be no point in campaign contribution caps. Perhaps the law should be different. But it's not: the conduct was unquestionably criminal.

  25. says

    If you want to know why Judge Berman included counseling as part of D'Souza's sentence, the quote from the World Magazine wrap-up (admittedly, a biased source given Marvin Olasky's antipathy) sheds some light:

    Despite the post-plea provocations that could have easily soured many federal judges, Berman showed D’Souza some measure of mercy. The judge noted he was pleased the sentencing guidelines were no longer required, and he seemed more interested in D’Souza’s personal psychology. He repeatedly asked D’Souza why, at the pinnacle of his career, he would risk everything and expose his close friends to criminal prosecution. He said it seemed so “self destructive.”

  26. Jim Lyon says

    I wonder: if Mr. D'Souza's pre-sentencing media tour was described in a sentencing report, I understand that the judge can consider it. But what if there was nothing about Mr. D'Souza's media tour officially before the court? Suppose the judge just saw Mr. D'Souza on TV, and thought to himself, "I should nail that little prick to the cross." Is it proper for him to take into account his personal out-of-court observations when he determines the sentence?

    I too would enjoy reading an answer by someone who knows something about law.

  27. says

    The judge isn't supposed to consider things outside the record unless they are "judicially noticeable" — not subject to reasonable dispute. In this case, the government filed a brief documenting Mr. D'Souza's statements.

  28. says

    1. The existence and contents of court filings and public records, but not the truth of what's in them. For instance: "This pleading shows that defendant made the same argument in another case" is judicially noticeable, "this pleading says the defendant is a crook, so he must be a crook" is not.

    2. Indisputable facts — Canada is adjacent to the United States, September 24 is a Wednesday, etc.

    Here's the federal rule: http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_201

  29. David C says

    For example: If there were was a newspaper story about his conduct, any allegations in the story would probably not be judicially noticeable – but the fact that there WAS a story about him in the paper would be. It may be reasonable to dispute the facts in the story, but it wouldn't be reasonable to dispute that the story was written.

  30. Matthew Cline says

    How often do the more annoying pro se litigants dispute indisputable facts in order to try to disqualify judicial notice?

  31. Mitch says

    Officially, perhaps the justice system is not supposed to take notice of this, but practically, it may have made him less sympathetic than if he had indulged in a little strategic groveling…

    You know, the United States turned Fascist so gradually, I didn't even notice.

  32. Grifter says

    @Ken (suppemental):

    In the sense of, say, a lack of repentance in public statements.

    To get more idealized/theoretical than this specific case, if a person was quoted publicly saying something like "He deserved me shooting him, I don't regret it", say, in a case where he (indefinite pronoun he) has been convicted of shooting the other guy, is that a legit thing to be factored in?

  33. Mitch says

    Oh, and I should point out that if something "sounds Orwellian", it might just be. The fact that this is common is far more chilling to me than if Mr. D'Souza was singled out based on his political leanings. The latter would be an abuse of power, which is something that happens. The former indicates a deranged system that has no connection to reality.

    If you don't think there's a good chance he's going to be counseled on his politics, then I take it you don't know how the therapy industry works. The fact that so much of the justice system is offloaded onto largely-unaccountable therapists, doctors and counselors whose work has absolutely no basis in science should disturb people. That many therapists are substantially deranged in their own right is the icing on the cake. (Although, if anyone is likely to avoid having politics brought up by court-sanctioned witch doctors, it's probably a guy with D'Souza's ability to draw attention to the practice. Your average patient is not so lucky.)

  34. Anonymous says

    How often do the more annoying pro se litigants dispute indisputable facts in order to try to disqualify judicial notice?

    That was the first thing I thought of when I read that – I will happily show up to dispute both facts, at great length, if my hourly rate is met.

  35. Mike says

    How often do the more annoying pro se litigants dispute indisputable facts in order to try to disqualify judicial notice?

    Pro se litigants are often out in their own world telling their own story, and thus do not, in my experience, typically concern themselves with such issues.

  36. Mercury says

    Shouldn't an "unreasonably lenient or hash" determination be made within the context of sentences for others found guilty of simialr campaign financing violations?

    Who else has been convicted for such things and what were their sentences? Does this kind of thing happen all the time or are successful proscutions for these things relatively rare?

  37. Marconi Darwin says

    @Mikee September 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    What's remarkable about her sentence? Considering she was only convicted of conspiracy, obstruction, and two counts of lying to a federal investigator.

    D'inesh does not get to go to prison, given a sentencing guideline of 10-16 months. Martha did. As "unremarkable"?

  38. anne mouse says

    How often do the more annoying pro se litigants dispute indisputable facts in order to try to disqualify judicial notice?

    Judicial notice is slightly rare. If both sides of a case are competent, they will be sure to place into the evidentiary record all the facts that a judge might need to rely on in order to rule in their favor. Judicial notice only enters the picture when somebody forgets to properly introduce a fact that's well-known and obvious.

    "Disqualifying judicial notice" isn't a winning strategy. You'll have to guess which facts the judge might rely on that haven't been explicitly evidenced by your opponent. So, maybe, "this court is located in the United States"? Something like that? You want to introduce contrary evidence, knock yourself out.

  39. Castaigne says

    @Matthew Cline:

    Does the rule about selective prosecution apply at the aggregate level of all prosecutors, or the level of the particular prosecutor in question? If it applies at the aggregate/general level, it doesn't matter what track record Preet Bharara has.

    I don't think it applies at the aggregate/general level, because that posits the "Savage in the White Hut", as some Freepers like to refer to him as, picking up the phone and instructing Preet Bharara to prosecute Dinesh, followed by Bharara clicking his heels while shouting "Jawohl, Hopenchange Leader!" and going full-bore on Dinesh.

    Since that involves a level of conspiracy that is not supported by either the evidence or by Ockham's Razor, I'd need a shit-load of proof before I believed it.

    So short answer, no, particular prosecutor in question unless proven he received orders from the Cabal On High or whatever.

    —–

    @Joel:

    For all the "debates" about bloggers vs. legitimate journalism, you can find a lot more well-researched and well-presented facts on specialized blogs than you will from "real journalism".

    Problem is, for every specialized blog you present, I can present two more supposedly specialized blogs that make Time Cube look sane…and who are just as credentialed/expert as the person doing the trusted blog. So I won't trust them either.

    —–

    @Mitch:

    If you don't think there's a good chance he's going to be counseled on his politics, then I take it you don't know how the therapy industry works. The fact that so much of the justice system is offloaded onto largely-unaccountable therapists, doctors and counselors whose work has absolutely no basis in science should disturb people. That many therapists are substantially deranged in their own right is the icing on the cake.

    I so dislike blanket statements. I personally hold that therapy (all forms) is bullshit and that any mental issues can be successfully treated with electroshock and pharmaceuticals; my opinion is not necessarily fact.

    So, citation?

  40. Mikee says

    @Marconi Darwin

    Dinesh received a minimum sentence, based on it being his first offense.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/17/business/martha-stewart-s-sentence-overview-5-months-jail-stewart-vows-ll-be-back.html
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0403060288mar06-story.html#page=2
    Martha received a minimum sentence, based on it being her first offense.

    And about what Martha did:
    http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/26/so-youve-been-threatened-with-a-defamation-suit/

    "Criminal defense attorneys like me tell our clients about something we call the Martha Stewart Rule: lots of people get into trouble not because the did something wrong, but because they heard they were being investigated for doing something wrong, and they panicked and started lying and deleting files and setting cabinetry on fire and making angry statements to the press and generally venting their agitation. They go to jail for stuff they did when they lost control over themselves, or they go to jail because in their panic they generated new evidence of prior wrongdoing."

    I can't find any instance of where Dinesh was covering up his activities, and lying to investigators, and getting caught covering things up and getting caught lying to investigators. In fact, as far as I've read (I'll admit to these cases being curiosities and not full blown interests of mine) he has been pretty honest about what he did, and why he did it from the start. He claimed he was selectively prosecuted, but now admits he did something wrong and wants to move forward.

    So he did something wrong, plead guilty, and got a light sentence.
    She did nothing wrong initially, but panicked and did do multiple things wrong, but still got a light sentence relative to her charges.

    So again, what is remarkable about her sentence, or the difference in her sentence compared to his?

  41. CJColucci says

    Since Martha Stewart has come up, one of the great missed opportunities of recent years was not making Stewart and Li'l Kim cellmates when the Bureau of Prisons had the chance.

  42. Robert What? says

    What the DD prosecution tells me more than anything else is how confident the Progressives are with their hold on power. Coming on the heels of the IRS targeting scandal, they gave no pause to initiating another targeted "attack". We know it was selective enforcement, they know it was selective enforcement. They don't care. They are saying: "We hold the power and we are confident we will always hold the power. This could happen to you if you criticize or even question us."

    Only time will tell if they are correct in their confidence.

  43. Janet C says

    The FEC has indeed indicted both Ds and Rs. Harry Wittemore, Harry Reid's pal, was charged in 2012 for doing the same thing D'Souza did albeit on a larger scale. Wittemore was sentenced to 2 years/100K fine and is currently appealing.

  44. Castaigne says

    @Robert What?:

    We know it was selective enforcement, they know it was selective enforcement. They don't care.

    HOW do we know it was selective enforcement? Do we have written orders, documentation? A video? A recorded telephone call? Or are you going with your gut here?

    Because before I say it IS something, I want proof and evidence that I can show someone. Something I can take to town, put all over the news, not just the rumor show.

  45. Robert What? says

    @Castaigne:

    HOW do we know it was selective enforcement? …

    Well, since this forum is not a court of law and I am not under oath, I am feeling free to use poetic license. How about: I strongly believe it was selective enforcement. Is that better? Why do I believe that? Several reasons: (1) DD is a prominent and vocal critic of the administration. (2) We already know from the IRS scandal that the administration is willing and able to do selective enforcement, and (3) People like John Corzine, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, etc – all Progressive Democrats – are all walking around free, never even having been charged with anything to my knowledge, never mind charged and acquitted. Their alleged offenses are far more serious than DD's.

  46. PonyAdvocate says

    For those who are interested, Mr. D'Souza's ex-wife apparently offered to the court her own thoughts on his sentence. (I make no claim regarding the authenticity of this document.)

  47. Castaigne says

    @Robert What?:

    I am feeling free to use poetic license.

    In the technology industry, we call those "lies" or "fiction", which is all the same thing anyways.

    How about: I strongly believe it was selective enforcement. Is that better?

    Yes. It shows it is an opinion, a belief, faith – something not supported by evidence, just what you believe.

    Why do I believe that?

    It's all right, you don't have to bother. I don't care why you believe anything you believe, just as you rightly shouldn't care about anything I believe. The only thing that ever matters is facts, hard evidence, money you can put on the barrelhead.

    If it can't be proven in accordance with legal procedures or the scientific method, I'm not interested in it.

  48. Robert What? says

    @Castaigne

    Ok, I get it: you're not interested in other people's opinions. Although that begs the question of why you visit this blog in the first place since 99% of it is other people's opinions (oops – there goes that poetic license again). However, I think I presented three strong corroborative pieces of evidence: motive, opportunity, and a failure to proceed against prominent figures who are also Progressive Democrats. Whether that would sway a Grand Jury to proceed I leave up to people like Ken White to weigh in on, if he'd indulge me. See, I am often interested in other people's opinions.

    On a related note, the possibility of a private citizen like me getting their hands on hard evidence is nil. The DOJ don't even respond to Congress. In any case, with my opinion and five bucks you can get a latte at Starbucks.

  49. AlphaCentauri says

    @Robert What?
    So you feel it is beyond question that the Obama administration has only prosecuted its political enemies, and that the previous Republican administration was even-handed in its prosecutions? Do the Republicans in congress know this? — they ought to be happy to allow federal prisoners to cast votes while incarcerated, then. (They already count them as part of the census population in creating those rural districts after all.)

  50. Robert What? says

    @AlphaCentauri

    You're talking to the wrong person. I was not a Bush supporter and I am not a Republican. That being said, the Bush administration were a bit less flagrant in their corruption. However, that is a different subject. The question is, is there sufficient circumstantial evidence to say that DD was selectively prosecuted?

  51. Mikee says

    @Robert

    A bit less flagrant? Are you forgetting about Valerie Plame, the dismissal of so many US Attorneys in '06-'07, or the justification used to involve us in a war in Iraq that killed how many thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis? Bush's assistant that blame Hurricane Katrina for shoplifting from Target and then trying to return those items? Bush's AIDS czar that said international organizations must condemn prostitution in order to get US aid, just before getting caught frequenting a popular DC Madame for 'massages'? Bremer's missing $12 billion? The no bid contracts given out to corporations with visible and apparent ties to the administration? Wolfowitz's "female companion"? The speech in St. Louis about “Strengthening America’s Economy” that included dozens of prominently featured "Made in China" products? Yeah, I guess if you've forgotten about all of that I could understand how you'd think your obviously preferred political party violates the law less flagrantly.

    At first I was one who agreed it was selective prosecution, but since there have been many, many people on both sides of the political aisle that have been charged and convicted by the same prosecutor, I no longer agree it was selective prosecution. And according to the judge, there was no evidence of selective prosecution, circumstantial or otherwise. Even D'Souza himself no longer trumpets that claim, which he easily could, since he's already been sentenced and it wouldn't affect him.

  52. Pickwick says

    Oh, Robert What.

    1) Dinesh D'souza is, indeed, a vocal critic of the Obama Administration. While there are vast tracts of policy for which I think Obama ought to be lambasted (e.g., institutionalizing both "too big to fail" and the Bush Admin's assault on civil liberties,) D'souza's critiques are laughably dishonest and he deserves scorn and ridicule. We can probably agree, though, that selective prosecution of political enemies is always wrong.

    2) I disagree that the IRS mess shows anything of the sort. Rep. Darrell Issa is also a hatchet-man, not a serious investigator; the Bloomberg report linked below paints a much muddier picture than the crystal-clear-but-false narrative of discrimination against conservatives that Issa has pushed. 2010, if you'll recall, saw a raft of judicial decisions that changed campaign finance law, from Citizens United to SpeechNow.org v. FEC. In the wake of these (disastrously multiplicative, IMO) rulings, 501c(4) organizations were popping up left and right like malignant mushrooms of unlimited dark money. To deal with the influx of applications based on the new rules, the IRS created BOLO lists in an effort to sort them by type so that internal groups could each deal with a different set of similar applications. Most of the groups that were delayed and closely inspected were conservative–but almost all of the 501c(4) groups applying for recognition were obviously conservative, and some of the small number of obviously liberal groups were also delayed for up to five years. That, to me, is an unconscionable delay; the IRS should be criticized for that, but maybe not by lawmakers who refused to issue clear guidelines on how the new rules should be enforced.

    (Also, given recent reports on a variety of Tea Party organizations that spend in excess of 95% of their funds on things other than political advocacy–e.g., administrative expenses and six-figure salaries–perhaps it would have been better if the IRS should have denied even more applications. A number of people decided to ride the Tea Party Wave purely to bilk gullible angry people of their money.)

    Bloomberg report: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-24/irs-screened-applications-using-progressive-israel-.html
    Summary of 2010 campaign finance decisions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance_evolution_in_2010

    3) There are many politicians of both parties who should probably be in prison; again, I hope we can agree on that. I'm not so sure you would agree with me on this, but I think allowing unlimited political expenditures without even requiring public disclosure of amounts and donors is an even better system for disseminating misinformation throughout the populace and corrupting the political process than we'd already been using. Even if it's free speech, we ought to know who is speaking and how loudly. As it stands, a small number of fantastically wealthy people have dedicated decades of their lives to creating "dummy organizations" through which they can ventriloquize their views, pretending that each is an independent voice. The courts have made it much harder to tell when this is the case.

  53. wolfefan says

    Hi Robert What? This isn't something you have to guess about. It is actually quantifiable. You can look up who has been prosecuted for this crime and figure out their party affiliation. You can even look up who this particular prosecutor has prosecuted for this particular crime. Others have done this, but you do not seem to be interested in their opinions. The three folks you listed may well be guilty of crimes, but I don't pretend to know what the evidence is or whether it is sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Is it your position that when specific evidence is presented to a prosecutor about a mildly prominent political figure (D'Souza really is a minor guy) that it should be ignored until an equally minor political figure of the opposite party should be charged and prosecuted concurrently?

  54. AlphaCentauri says

    My point is that given that if the administration were ignoring crimes by Democrats, the prison population should be disproportionately composed of Obama opponents, and that one would expect the Republicans to have a more enlightened view about allowing them to vote. Despite the obvious importance of making sure that any ruling party that has the power to prosecute should not simultaneously be able to use that power to prevent their opponents from exercising their ability to participate in democratic opposition to the party in power, you don't see the Republican party arguing for allowing prisoners to vote. There are even states that disenfranchise people after they have "paid their debt to society," and some like Florida, who have removed people from the voting rolls just for having the same name as an ex-offender. Therefore, I call bullshit on the assertion that Obama shields his supporters from prosecution.

  55. David C says

    AlphaCenturi, we're obviously talking here about major supporters and not just people who may happen to vote a particular way. Nobody is claiming that every registered Democrat is immune from all prosecution. Such a thing wouldn't be practical even if a prosecutor was corrupt enough to contemplate it; if half the population could get away with murder we wouldn't have a society for long. And the despite the large size of prisons these days, it also wouldn't be practical to lock up the entire opposition, and nobody is claiming that is happening either.

    IF D'Souza was targeted, it wouldn't be because he merely voted for Republicans; it would be because he raised a boatload of money for them and created a film opposing the administration.

    I mean, you could arrest every Republican in the Senate, and the DC jail population would still remain heavily Democratic. The prison population, by itself, would not indicate that selective prosecution was not (or was) happening. (And it would still make sense from a cynical perspective for Republicans to oppose voting rights for ex-prisoners so long as the raw numbers were in their favor, regardless of how many of those were or were not selective prosecutions – but, you know, at least some of them might oppose it for reasons beyond wanting a favorable electorate.)

    But showing that this particular prosecutor had prosecutions from both parties for this particular crime DOES go a long way in showing that selective prosecution is unlikely, because the crime is inherently one regarding political donations.

  56. Robert What? says

    Wow, we are getting way OT here. The relative corruption of Obama vs. Bush administrations could be it's own separate thread. I'm just asking, would a "reasonable" prosecutor determine that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to go to trial on selective prosecution?

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