Dinesh D’Souza, co-director and star of the second-most-successful political documentary in U.S. box office history, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court this morning to making an illegal political contribution, part of a deal in which a second charge of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission was dropped. “I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said in court today according to the NY Daily News. Sentencing is set for September 23. The trial was set to start today. D’Souza was indicted in January on the two counts after the government said he donated more than $20,000 to the 2012 GOP Senate campaign of Wendy Long via other people. He originally pleaded not guilty.
D’Souza’s producer Gerald Molen has been saying the indictment was politically motivated but that it will not stop the upcoming sequel to 2016: Obama’s America, which has already set a July 4 release date. “Last week I publicly urged the government to drop the charges against my friend and colleague Dinesh D’Souza,” Molen said today after the guilty plea was submitted. “Today I am delighted to learn that the more serious of the two charges has indeed been dropped. Dinesh has accepted responsibility for a technical violation of the campaign finance law. Although I would have preferred a complete vindication, I understand that he did what he felt was best for his family and our film America. We look forward to that matter being fairly resolved.”
America is written and hosted by D’Souza, directed by Sullivan and produced by Molen. When the film was announced, D’Souza described it as taking a cue from James Stewart’s character George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, imagining what today’s world would be like if America had never existed because “we are now living in the America that we warned our fellow citizens could come to pass if President Obama were re-elected”.
D’Souza’s 2016 has made more than $33 million since it was released in July 2012 during the heat of the presidential elections. The documentary from the conservative author and former member of the Reagan administration posited what a second Obama term might look like. It was co-directed by D’Souza and John Sullivan, and was panned by the White House throughout the summer as Election Day neared.