NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza insisted on Friday he is innocent of campaign finance fraud charges brought against him by a federal grand jury in late January. However, D’Souza was far less eager to discuss his personal life and current marital status.
“I’ve pleaded not guilty. And yes, I’m innocent,” D’Souza said in a brief interview with Business Insider at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
D’Souza appeared at the conference to give a speech previewing his new film, “America.” His remarks were part of a panel discussion about conservatives in Hollywood, which also featured former U.S. senator, presidential candidate, and “Law & Order” star Fred Thompson.
Though D’Souza was quick to profess his innocence, he was reluctant to discuss his personal life. In January, D’Souza was charged with violating campaign finance laws. According to the indictment, in August 2012 D’Souza allegedly directed a straw donation scheme to funnel illegal donations to an unnamed U.S. Senate candidate’s campaign. Prosecutors accused D’Souza of reimbursing people who gave donations, some of which were over the legal limit to the campaign.
The candidate was later reported to be Wendy Long, the Republican attorney who in 2012 fell to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. According to Federal Election Commission records, both D’Souza’s ex-wife and a woman D’Souza once described as his fiancée, Denise Odie Joseph, donated a total of $US20,000 to the campaign. Joseph donated $US15,000 of that total. Federal election law caps campaign contributions that can be given to a single candidate at $US2,500 for each primary and general election race in a cycle.
D’Souza told Business Insider he had no comment on Joseph’s donations. He also declined to answer a question about whether he was currently married to either woman.
Conservatives have alleged that D’Souza was targeted by the Obama administration because of his critical looks at the President and his administration. If convicted, D’Souza faces a maximum of seven years in prison.
During his speech Friday, D’Souza blasted Obama, saying Obama was on his way to becoming the kind of president D’Souza warned he would be in his 2012 documentary film, “2016: Obama’s America.”
“Obama is an actor playing out our script,” D’Souza told the audience. “He’s like a toy soldier who walks into the wall and keeps on going.”
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