Four Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have demanded that FBI Director James Comey answer specific questions regarding the "routine review" of campaign filings that led to last month's indictment of conservative commentator and best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza on campaign-finance charges.
, dated Wednesday, was signed by the committee's ranking GOP member, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah.
The letter, which was reported by The Weekly Standard
and other news organizations, quotes former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz's recent column in The Wall Street Journal
attacking D'Souza's indictment. "I can't help but think that [D'Souza's] politics have something to do with it. ... It smacks of selective prosecution," the letter states.
Dershowitz first made his explosive accusation of political prosecution in the D'Souza case to John Bachman in an interview on Newsmax TV
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D'Souza, 52, directed the 2012 film critical of President Barack Obama, "2016: Obama's America." It is a top-grossing documentary, with a take of more than $33 million.
His second documentary film — "America" — is scheduled to be released July 4.
D'Souza was indicted
on Jan. 23 on charges of using straw donors around August 2012. He is accused of reimbursing people whom he had directed to contribute $20,000 reportedly to the New York Senate campaign of Republican Wendy Long, a longtime friend.
Long was handily defeated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in last November's election.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has contended that D'Souza's actions were "at worst" an act of misguided friendship toward the candidate.
D'Souza was charged with one count of making illegal contributions in the names of others, and one count of causing false statements to be made.
Federal law in 2012 limited primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 each, for a total of $5,000, from any individual to any one candidate.
D'Souza, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains free on $500,000 bail, vowed earlier this month that he would not be intimidated by the charges.
"I’m going to proceed with my work and my ideas — and the film will be unimpeded by what's going on,” D’Souza told The Daily Caller.
Dershowitz and other commentators, including several interviewed by Newsmax,
have charged that the indictment was a form of retribution for D'Souza's role in the anti-Obama film.
In their letter, the senators cited news reports saying that the D'Souza indictment "began as a result of a 'routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the [Federal Election Commission] of various candidates after the 2012 election.
"To dispel this sort of public perception that Mr. D'Souza may have been targeted because of his outspoken criticisms of the president, it is important for the FBI to be transparent regarding the precise origin of this investigation," the letter continued.
The senators then pose 12 direct questions to Comey regarding the general scope of the reviews and specifically concerning the D'Souza indictment.
"During your confirmation hearing, you pledged that you would carry the values of transparency and try to spread them as far as you could within the FBI," the senators said before listing their questions. "To explain the details of these routine reviews and provide context to those who may be skeptical of the origins of this investigation, please provide answers to the following questions regarding FBI's regular review of campaign filings."
The questions are:
1. It appears from U.S. Attorney's Office comment that the FBI conducts regular, perhaps random reviews of campaign filings. Is this correct? If so, what methodology does the FBI use to conduct these reviews?
2. Please identify and describe all methods by which a review of campaign filings may be initiated.
3. Please identify all other government entities involved in the FBI's review of campaign filings and describe their involvement.
4. How and why was this particular review initiated?
5. What criteria involved in this particular review led to the suspicion that warranted further inquiry?
6. What are the guidelines under which the FBI conducts its review of campaign filings?
7. Please describe how the FBI's reviews of campaign filings are conducted.
8. How many campaign filings has the FBI reviewed in each year from 2008 to the present?
9. On average, how long does it take to complete a review of a campaign filing?
10. How many agents are assigned, per case, to review campaign filings?
11. On average, how many man hours are spent reviewing campaign filings?
12. When did the FBI begin routinely reviewing campaign filings?
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