Left-wing activist and comedian Rosie O’Donnell has been caught contributing more than the legal limit to five Democratic political candidates. She used four variations of her name and five different New York addresses to make the contributions. This may show intent to disguise them.
Federal Election Commission rules limit contributions to federal candidates to $2,700 per election. Donors can max that out in a primary race, then max it out again during a general election for the same candidate. O’Donnell contributed more than $2,700 each to five candidates during the primary race.
The offense is punishable by large fines from the FEC. The FEC can also choose to let a donor move an excess donation from a primary race into the general election or refund it. It doesn’t have to impose the full amount of the fines, and it certainly does not have to criminally prosecute the individual.
O’Donnell’s contributions are similar to what conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza did during the 2012 election cycle. He asked two friends and their spouses to contribute $10,000 each to a congressional campaign, then he reimbursed them. Prosecutors chose to bring charges against him, and he ended up pleading guilty to the felony of making illegal contributions in the names of others. He was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house, five years probation and a $30,000 fine.
But prosecutors didn’t need to bring charges against him. Especially not felony charges. Left-leaning Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said at the time, “I can’t help but think that [Mr. D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it… . It smacks of selective prosecution.” Dershowitz told Newsmax, "This is clearly a case of selective prosecution for one of the most common things done during elections, which is to get people to raise money for you. If they went after everyone who did this, there would be no room in jails for murderers."
Former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova observed that the prosecution was unusual considering it involved a single donation made by an individual with no criminal record. David Mason, a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, told Newsmax that the prosecution had to show beyond a reasonable doubt that D’Souza broke the law “knowingly and willfully.” Campaign finance law is complex, and the average person who is not an attorney or working on campaigns might not have known this was against the law. D’Souza said he was unaware it was a campaign violation. I am a former county elections attorney, who worked on several campaigns, and I wasn’t even aware it was against the law until D’Souza’s prosecution.
Four Republican senators wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey and accused the Obama administration of using the DOJ to take down a prominent critic.
The Washington Times notes that in contrast, Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign failed to disclose millions of dollars in contributions and missed deadlines for refunding millions in excess contributions. Yet it was merely fined $375,000 and no one was prosecuted for felonies.
O’Donnell claims she did not know she had exceeded campaign finance limits. Then why did she use four different versions of her name and five different residential addresses?
The FEC penalties for contributing over the allowed limit and contributing in another’s name are quite similar — they are both fines. If D’Souza’s situation was escalated to criminal prosecution, then how is O’Donnell’s situation any different, if not worse? D’Souza tweeted about O’Donnell, “Five times more egregious than my case. Now let’s see if Lady Justice is truly blind.”
O’Donnell will likely get away with the five improper contributions. Unlike O’Donnell, the legal system was stacked against D’Souza. D’Souza was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, a former staff member to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and an Obama appointee. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, a Clinton appointee, sentenced D’Souza. Fortunately, Trump has replaced many of the Obama-era U.S. Attorneys. He fired Bharara. But Berman is still on the bench.
The left dominates the legal system and has wrongly used it against many prominent conservatives. If O’Donnell is not prosecuted, it will scream injustice regarding what happened to D’Souza.