In the wake of the indictment of conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza for alleged fraud, conservatives are crying foul that it is evidence of the Obama administration punishing its critics.
Ranging from questions about selective enforcement of laws to outright accusations of manipulation, many bloggers, writers and pundits on the right raised flags about the arrest of the prominent critic of President Barack Obama and creator of the controversial film “2016: Obama’s America,” released in 2012.
D’Souza’s co-producer on “2016” called the arrest politically motivated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“In America, we have a long tradition of not doing what is commonly done in too many other countries — criminalizing dissent through the selective enforcement of the law,” Greg Molen said. “In light of the recent events and the way the IRS has been used to stifle dissent, this arrest should send shivers down the spines of all freedom-loving Americans.”
His thoughts were echoed by prominent conservatives, including influential Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge, who sent out a conspiracy-stoking tweet.
D’Souza has been accused of making straw donations to the campaign of the opponent of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the 2012 election, and in a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the indictment came out of a “routine review” by the FBI, which was seized upon by the blogosphere.
“A routine review, eh? At the very least, the report raises a few questions,” Ed Morrissey wrote on HotAir. “The race, although not specified, appears to be the Senate election between Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long in New York, in which Long lost to Gillibrand by forty-five points (72% to 27%). Why would D’Souza try to push illegal contributions in the low five figures and risk criminal prosecution in a race where tens of millions of dollars were spent, and where the challenger was utterly doomed? For that matter, why use straw men when D’Souza could have just bundled for Long instead, or set up a PAC?”
Morrissey critiqued campaign contribution laws as inherently flawed and acknowledged D’Souza could have broken the law, but he said that doesn’t lower the red flags.
“How many of these cases involve Obama boosters rather than critics? How did prosecutors decide to look into D’Souza’s activities in the first place?” Morrissey wrote.
Conservative website The Daily Caller published a story with the headline, “Obama administration indicts conservative filmmaker critical of Obama,” which cited Molen’s comments to THR and implied there could be motives behind the indictment.
“‘2016: Obama’s America’ was a surprise box-office smash, raking in $ 33 million in revenue. The documentary is currently the second-most-popular political documentary in American history behind ‘Farenheit 9/11,’ a 2004 movie by leftist documentarian Michael Moore which thrashes the foreign policy of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. Bush administration officials never indicted Moore,” the article read.
Writing on Reason.com, senior editor Brian Doherty also used the indictment to criticize campaign finance laws, wielding sarcasm to question any possible motives in D’Souza’s arrest.
“Is it a good thing that someone should face fines and/or jail time for deciding to express his support of a political candidate by reimbursing people he knows for the amounts of money they donated to that candidate? The correct answer is no,” he wrote. “Yet, in this land of free speech and democracy, where political expression is highly valued, you can and indeed do face criminal charges for such actions. See the fate today of conservative politico and writer (and anti-Obama filmmaker, but we can be sure that had nothing to do with this) Dinesh D’Souza.”
He continued: “Expressing your support for a candidate above an arbitrary legislative limit—or, even, giving some cash to friends of yours for whatever reason you want, money is fungible—is corruption of the electoral process. That laws like this exist to slam enemies of the regime when such laws might be needed, well, that’s just politics.”
Some bloggers took their criticism farther, with Pamela Gellar of Atlas Shrugged comparing the Obama administration to fascists in the pre-World War II era.
“The ongoing persecution of Republicans and conservatives mirrors the attacks by the fascists of Europe on their opponents in the 1930s. Punishing Obama’s political adversaries claims another victim,” Gellar wrote in a post. “The latest attacks are against conservative authors and/or groups that share a philosophy based on individual rights. Dinesh D’Souza is the latest target.”