D'Souza Was Jailed for $20K, Bankman-Fried Gets Off Despite $100M in Alleged Illegal Campaign Contributions


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

The Department of Justice announced on Dec. 29 that it would not seek a second trial for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried regarding $100 million in alleged illegal campaign contributions.

That’s quite a contrast to the treatment conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza received in 2014 when he was indicted and sent to prison for illegal campaign donations totaling $20,000.

The DOJ’s Bankman-Fried indictment accused him of “having directed at least 300 illegal campaign donations, totaling up to $100 million, to both Democrats and Republicans through two other unnamed FTX executives who acted as ‘straw donors’ to hide the true source of the funds,” NBC News reported in February 2023.

Count 8 of the indictment spelled out the violations involved, in part, to candidates for federal office “in the names of other persons.”

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Bankman-Fried also tried to hide the fact the money was coming from the FTX corporation by giving it through company executives, another violation of the law.

Corporations cannot donate to federal candidates or political action committees supporting them.

Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced his decision not to pursue the campaign violations against Bankman-Fried in a letter filed in federal court the Friday before New Year’s weekend.

Should the DOJ prosecute Bankman-Fried's alleged campaign finance crimes?

That’s what those in the business call burying a story.

The letter read, in part, given “the strong public interest in a prompt resolution of this matter, the Government intends to proceed to sentencing on the counts for which the defendant was convicted at trial.”

Bankman-Fried was convicted in November of seven fraud and conspiracy-related charges stemming from his leadership of the now defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Williams went on to explain that DOJ had not included the campaign finance allegations in its extradition warrant sent to the Bahamas in December 2022.

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Further, it had yet to receive a waiver from Bahamian government to proceed with those charges. To proceed anyway would be in violation of the terms of its extradition treaty, the federal prosecutor pointed out.

Well, that seems pretty convenient.

Bankman-Fried gave a reported $5.2 million to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The boss and many others get saved the embarrassment a trial might bring to them. The case is dropped.

Williams acknowledged that the DOJ could continue to wait for the Bahamas to grant the waiver or just bring the case to a close, and for the sake of public interest that was what he chose to do.

Flashback to 2012 during the Obama-Biden administration.

That year D’Souza released “2016: Obama’s America,” which was a political documentary looking critically at what four more years of a Barack Obama presidency could mean.

In 2012, D’Souza admittedly tried to get around the campaign contribution limit for GOP New York U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long, a friend with whom he had attended Dartmouth University. Long was running against Democrat incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

He gave the maximum allowed of $5,000 for himself and $5,000 in his wife’s name. He then solicited two friends to give an additional $10,000 on behalf of themselves and their respective spouses. He then reimbursed them in cash.

So the total amount illegally given was $20,000, according to a 2014 news release from the FBI.

D’Souza had become too zealous in trying to help a friend, and he pled guilty to the crimes.

At the sentencing hearing in 2014, he told the judge, “I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” adding, “I deeply regret my conduct,” according to Politico.

The judge sentenced him to eight months detention at a community confinement facility and five years probation.

Further, he had to do a “mandatory eight-hour day of community service every week of his five-year term of probation, weekly counseling sessions, and ordered him to pay a $30,000 fine, as well as a $100 special assessment,” the FBI news release said.

FEC violations are often handled with fines.

For example in 2013, the FEC fined Obama’s 2008 campaign $375,000 for failing to file the proper notices for approximately 1,200 large contributions that came in during the closing days of the campaign.

In 2022, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign paid a $113,000 fine for trying to hide the money it spent to fund the infamous Steele dossier, which fueled the whole Russiagate hoax the DOJ deployed against Donald Trump.

Someone, probably multiple someones, should have gone to jail over that whole Russia collusion lie, but no one did.

One can’t help thinking the difference between D’Souza and Clinton or Bankman-Fried is their political bent.

Then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted D’Souza’s 2014 case, denied the DOJ played favorites at that time.

“As our Office’s record reflects, we will investigate and prosecute violations of federal law, particularly those that undermine the integrity of the democratic electoral process, without regard to the defendant’s political persuasion or party affiliation. That is what we did in this case and what we will continue to do,” Bharara said.

If what he said was true then, the dropping of charges against Bankman-Fried shows it is no longer true now.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith