New York (AFP) – Right-wing author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza, a forceful critic of President Barack Obama, pleaded guilty Tuesday to using straw donors to boost contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate in 2012.
In January, D’Souza was charged with violating laws which limit the amount individuals can donate to political campaigns, and with making false statements.
At the time, he insisted on his innocence, and his backers, including nationally-known conservative pundits, stressed that the Republican firebrand was targeted for federal prosecution because of his anti-Obama views.
But he pleaded guilty in New York federal court Tuesday to one campaign finance violation, avoiding a trial that was due to begin the same day.
“I deeply regret my conduct,” D’Souza, 53, told the judge, according to the New York Daily News.
“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids.”
D’Souza is a best-selling author of several books on politics and the influence of religion on American society, and his film 2016: Obama’s America was popular with conservative groups.
His attorney Benjamin Brafman said the charges stemmed from D’Souza arranging for two associates to contribute $10,000 each to the U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long, who lost to incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Given the technical nature of the charge, there was no viable defense,” said Brafman, who described D’Souza’s act as an “isolated instance of wrongdoing.”
D’Souza faced two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but the defense team said that with the guilty plea it was hoping he could avoid imprisonment upon his sentencing in September.
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