Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws. He was accused of having urged two friends to make $10,000 contributions to a Senate candidate and then reimbursing them. This is an illegal work-around of campaign contribution limits.
He won’t be sentenced until Sept. 23 but faces 16 months in prison and a $30,000 fine.
So a guy does something wrong and pleads guilty. What’s the big deal?
Well, there’s the ridiculosity (that’s a word, right?) of such campaign finance laws and the pretty serious looming sentence for the crime. Prison.
I should probably mention at this point that D’Souza really, really, really doesn’t like President Obama. In 2012 he produced a popular documentary called 2016: Obama’s America, a harshly critical look at Obama’s worldview and how it affected his governing. That was in turn based on a book called The Roots of Obama’s Rage. Not that D’Souza has avoided criticism from the right, but his disdain for progressives is returned in spades.
The Law Is A Funny Thing
Now let’s take a look at one Jon Corzine. Who is he? Well, he was CEO of Goldman Sachs, spent $62 million of totally clean (I’m sure) cash buying a Senate seat, brought New Jersey to the brink of fiscal ruin in his sole term as governor, and then ended up implicated in one of the largest scandals in Wall Street history. How big? Oh, like $1.6 billion big. Here’s a link to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission complaint.
From a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch write up last June:
In October, 2011, then-MF Global chief Jon Corzine told an employee that they were going to do everything not to take cash from a revolving credit facility even if that meant “going negative” by taking funds from customer accounts. According to a Commodity Futures Trading Commission complaint Thursday, Corzine knew that “going negative” — taking funds from the commodity merchant’s customer accounts — would be a violation of the firm’s policy. The exchange between Corzine and one of his employees is just one of dozens of details explaining how MF Global allegedly improperly moved customer funds in the final days of the firm in 2011, which led to more than $1 billion in missing customer funds. Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who later became a U.S. senator and governor of New Jersey, was slapped with civil charges Thursday for his role in the collapse of MF Global Holdings Ltd., the commodity trading firm he oversaw.
Anything else we should know? How about this from two years ago (emphasis mine):
Jon Corzine — under federal and congressional investigation following accusations that the securities firm he headed illegally took clients’ funds before collapsing — is among President Obama’s top re-election campaign bundlers, raising at least $500,000, according to the campaign’s filing Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
You will never, ever, ever, ever believe how Corzine’s story turned out. I mean, if sliding $20K in campaign funds around is a problem, what do you think losing more than $1 billion in customer funds and managing your way into the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history is worth? Did you guess in your wildest dreams that one of Obama’s top bundlers would totally skate?
“After 18 months of investigation, the criminal probe into Jon Corzine is now being dropped,” a person with knowledge of the probe told The Post.
When Corzine escaped any punishment last year, there was surprisingly little coverage and certainly no outrage in the media — even in a political climate where members of the Democratic Party’s base were calling for the heads of banksters and Goldman Sachs and its alumni, in particular, were being compared to a politically-connected Vampire Squid.
Maybe in addition to having very close friends in the White House, the U.S. Senate, New Jersey and Wall Street, Corzine didn’t do anything worth prosecuting related to MF Global bankruptcy and the straight-up loss of more than a billion dollars. And maybe in addition to having enemies in the White House and other corridors of power, D’Souza’s $20,000 crime makes him Public Enemy #1. I don’t know.
But if there were selective enforcement of laws under this administration, that would be something worth caring just a bit about.