Renowned civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz is alarmed that conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza — who made a documentary critical of President Barack Obama — has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate.
"I don't agree with D'Souza at all. I don't like his film and I like Obama, but I hate the idea that people are prosecuted for their political views," Dershowitz told John Bachman, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show," on Newsmax TV.
"The criminalization of policy differences is ruining this country. I was very much opposed when Congressman [Tom] DeLay was indicted. I'm not happy about the case against the former governor of Virginia. I don't like political prosecutions.
"I'm very worried that this could be perceived as selective prosecution here. After all, this is a guy who helps out a college classmate who didn't have a chance in the world of winning."
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According to an indictment made public in U.S. federal court in Manhattan, D'Souza in the summer of 2012 reimbursed people who he had directed to contribute $20,000 to the candidate's campaign. The candidate was not named in the indictment.
A lawyer for D'Souza contended his actions were "at worst," an act of misguided friendship toward the candidate.
D'Souza was charged in the indictment 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.
"It's a tiny contribution compared to what bundlers put together. This is not the worst . . . and it's a very bad exercise of prosecutorial discretion," Dershowitz said.
"Whether somebody sat down and made a decision to go after him because he's anti-Obama, I don't know that, but it certainly sounds like they didn't pick the worst person to go after."
D'Souza, 52, is a former policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and has been affiliated with conservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
He also directed a 2012 film critical of President Barack Obama, "2016: Obama's America," and has written books including "The End of Racism," "Life After Death: The Evidence" and "Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream."
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