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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dinesh D’Souza, a best-selling conservative author of the “Obama is a secret Kenyan socialist” variety, was indicted for election fraud by federal authorities Thursday.

According to the indictment, D’Souza directed acquaintances to donate to the campaign of an unnamed Senate candidate and then reimbursed the donors. Capital New York reports that Wendy Long’s 2012 Senate run is the campaign in question. Long, who lost to Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in a landslide election, is an old college friend of D’Souza. Both attended Dartmouth College in the early 1980s, where they worked for an infamous right-wing student newspaper, The Dartmouth Review.

In addition to reimbursing donors, the indictment also indicates D’Souza knowingly and unlawfully made contributions to the campaign “in the name of others.” D’Souza is set to be arraigned in Manhattan Federal District Court on Friday. Through his lawyer, he’s maintained his innocence.

“Mr. D’Souza did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever,” said Benjamin Brafman, D’Souza’s attorney. “He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and at most, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza.”

The indictment seems to cap D’Souza’s rather rapid slide from prominence in conservative circles. It also adds another controversy to his storied history as a public figure.

After graduating from Dartmouth, D’Souza took a job in the Reagan administration as a policy advisor. He also later worked as a scholar for the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and served on the board of the Catholic League. His career as an author and filmmaker further launched him into the public eye — his 2012 documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, was a hit with conservative critics of the president, earning a shocking $33 million at the box office.

But scandal was never far from D’Souza.

On the first day of Yom Kippur in 1992, for example, The Dartmouth Review published a quote from Adolf Hitler on the paper’s masthead. “By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work,” the passage read. D’Souza, who was a trustee of the Review at the time, did not apologize for the paper’s anti-Semitism. Rather, he publicly claimed it was sabotage by members of Dartmouth’s staff, who’d tried previously to censor the paper.

In 2012, fresh off the success of 2016: Obama’s America, D’Souza resigned as president of King’s College, an evangelical college in New York, after it was exposed that he was engaged to a 29-year-old woman while still married to his wife. Ironically, the evangelical publication World published the initial report of D’Souza’s marital infidelity. His high-profile position was apparently a point of contention for some of the more vocal members of the religious right.

And now, to almost certainly further diminish D’Souza’s stature in the public discourse, he’ll be hauled in front of a judge in federal court to hear the charges being brought against him, marking the meteoric fall to a 25-year career on the fringe.

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