(Enter Stage Right) -- Conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, one of the most brilliant conservative political writers of the modern era, was sentenced by a judge last week to eight months in a halfway house and probation. He was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine within 45 days. His crime? He made two contributions to a losing political campaign under the names of friends. D'Souza accepted a plea agreement admitting he used straw donors to donate $20,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long, a friend of his. Federal campaign law limits contributors to U.S. Senate campaigns to $5,000 each.
At first glance one is inclined to think, "you commit a crime, you deserve the punishment." But a closer look reveals that he is not being punished equally compared to others who did the same thing - in fact he is being punished much more severely than Democrats who did much worse. There are myriads of campaign laws the average person has no idea exist. The laws have become so complex, vast - and there are multiple layers: federal, state, local laws and regulations. Many conservative intellectuals like D'Souza are vastly experienced with policy - but not campaigns/elections, which are a completely different world.
This incident reminds me of one of my favorite books, Three Felonies a Day, written by Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense attorney, who explains how the average American unknowingly commits three felonies a day. As bright as D'Souza is, I guarantee you he did not realize there was a severe penalty for merely giving money to two friends, who then donated it to an obviously losing political campaign.
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