A controversial far-right pundit and filmmaker whose conviction on a campaign finance violation was pardoned this year by President Donald Trump is coming to New Mexico to campaign for Republican congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones.
“Fire Up New Mexico with Special Guest Dinesh D’Souza,” says a Facebook ad for Arnold-Jones, the GOP nominee for the open seat in the Albuquerque-centered 1st Congressional District.
Asked why she invited D’Souza to her Sept. 7 fundraiser, Arnold-Jones said Monday, “He’s a modern-day version of de Tocqueville,” referring to French diplomat, political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who authored Democracy in America in the 19th century. “He’s got historical perspectives and credentials [as a historian] up the wazoo.”
Her opponent, Democrat Deb Haaland, disparaged D’Souza’s credentials, describing him in a Monday email to potential campaign supporters as “the criminal conservative pundit pardoned by the president.”
“Aside from being a racist, convicted criminal — it’s important to point out that the crimes he committed were campaign finance violations,” Haaland wrote of D’Souza, who in 2014 pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by helping a GOP candidate skirt contribution limits.
“My opponent is already right in line with this administration and their culture of corruption,” Haaland said. “Anyone who would bring a criminal to town to raise money doesn’t deserve your vote.”
D’Souza pleaded guilty to one count of violating federal campaign election law by making illegal contributions to Republican Wendy Long’s U.S. Senate campaign in New York.
“During the plea proceeding, D’Souza admitted before the Court that he caused two close associates to contribute $10,000 each to the Long Campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions and that he did reimburse them,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan said. “D’Souza also admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids.”
“Dinesh D’Souza attempted to illegally contribute over $10,000 to a Senate campaign, wilfully undermining the integrity of the campaign finance process,” said then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Like many others before him, of all political stripes, he has had to answer for this crime — here with a felony conviction.”
D’Souza was sentenced to eight months in a half-way house and five years of probation.
On May 31, Trump tweeted “Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “Mr. D’Souza accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship.”
Arnold-Jones on Monday responded by blasting Haaland for recently having a fundraiser with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi — who, Arnold-Jones noted had said during the House debate on the Affordable Care Act, “We [need] to pass the bill in order to find out what [is] in it.” (Pelosi later said she was saying that Congress had to pass the bill so people could see the benefits of the legislation and that she wasn’t talking about the contents of the bill.)
Haaland’s email included several controversial tweets by D’Souza.
One was a response to an Associated Press photo of Parkland, Fla., school shooting survivors watching the Florida Legislature vote down a bill that would have banned the sale of assault weapons. D’Souza commented, “Worse news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
In another tweet apparently targeting the Florida student activists, D’Souza said, “How interesting to hear students who can’t support themselves giving us lectures about American social policy.”
Another D’Souza quote took a swipe at a well-known figure in the civil rights movement: “Overrated Democrats Dept.: So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of a bus — that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss.”
D’Souza stirred controversy in 1995 when he claimed in a book that “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.” He also suggested that black people actually owe white people reparations for abolishing slavery.
Recently he has been plugging his latest documentary film, Death of a Nation. Trailers for the production, which show scenes of Hitler rallies and black slaves being whipped, indicate that a major theme is that Democrats are the real Nazis and racists.
In his description of both trailers, D’Souza says, “Not since 1860 have the Democrats so fanatically refused to accept the result of a free election. That year, their target was Lincoln. They smeared him. They went to war to defeat him. In the end, they assassinated him.”
In the trailer, D’Souza says, “It’s now up to us to save America a second time.”
Next month’s Albuquerque campaign event is scheduled at the home of businessman Tom Tinnin & Anissa Ford-Tinnin. Tickets run between $75 and $750.