Author who was set to speak will be sentenced for federal crime soon
By DAVE BOUCHER
CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF
The West Virginia Republican Party has canceled an event where controversial conservative filmmaker, author and felon Dinesh D’Souza was slated to speak days before his sentencing on a federal crime.
“On the eve of such an exciting election year in West Virginia, we want to ensure that our dinner is an event for all conservatives to celebrate,” party chairman Conrad Lucas said Wednesday afternoon.
D’Souza is the creator of the popular documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” the more recent film “America: Imagine the World Without Her” and is a New York Times best-selling author.
He also pleaded guilty in May to charges related to a campaign finance violation involving “straw donors.” He gave $20,000 to others so they could donate that money to a Republican’s political campaign in 2012, according to court filings and many media reports.
He faces up to 16 months in prison.
D’Souza’s sentencing in New York federal court is scheduled for Sept. 23, four days after he was going to be the keynote speaker at the West Virginia GOP’s $75-per-ticket “Victory Dinner” event.
Lucas said he was unfamiliar with D’Souza’s “timeline on his situation” but confirmed the party booked him within the last month.
“I think any issues with Mr. D’Souza on that front is better left for discussion with he and his legal team,” Lucas said, when asked if D’Souza’s impending imprisonment was considered when the GOP booked him.
The announcement of D’Souza headlining the event drew sharp criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the state and the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate seat, doesn’t approve of the invite, a campaign spokeswoman said.
“Neither the campaign or Shelley had any knowledge of the decision to invite D’Souza to speak nor do we agree with the invitation,” spokeswoman Amy Graham said.
“Shelley will not be attending the event and she will not allow her name to be associated with the event in any way.”
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio bashed the GOP’s decision to bring D’Souza to the state.
“While it is an insult to West Virginians, it is no surprise that the Republican Party is bringing in Dinesh D’Souza, an admitted felon who famously violated campaign finance laws,” Puccio said in a statement.
“The Republican Party here is the party of out-of-state money and is committed to buying elections. With D’Souza, they are now openly endorsing this agenda — even if it is with illegal money.”
Democrats and Republicans repeatedly accuse each other of relying heavily on out-of-state political donations for several races this election cycle.
In June, D’Souza told the Daily Caller going to prison is “something that I have to cope with.”
“It’s certainly not an inevitability. It is in the hands of a judge who will make a decision about that at the end of September. I did something foolish and wrong, which is to say I exceeded the campaign finance limit and I take responsibility for that,” he told the online publication.
Lucas called him a “warrior for more than 20 years for conservative values” in the press release announcing D’Souza’s visit.
“He is a brilliant academic, but his popular books and film making show his unique ability to make the news of the day digestible and powerful to voters and citizens nationwide. We are proud to bring him to West Virginia at such an important time in our state’s Republican turn to Red,” Lucas said in the statement.
Late Wednesday Lucas said D’Souza has a speaking fee but declined to say what it was. The party isn’t going to pay him anything now, Lucas said.
The “Victory Dinner” will still take place sometime in September or October, Lucas said.
“We want to make sure that all West Virginians are excited, much like they have been in the past for the event and as they will continue to be in the future,” Lucas said.
He didn’t say if the party had a new keynote speaker in mind.
The general election is Nov. 4.
Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.