Thursday, May 10, 2018

For the Record: Is Rosie O'Donnell a criminal?

Jaywalking 1940, via HowStuffWorks.

Spoiler: No. During this year's primary campaign, it's alleged, the actor and former talk show host has been donating compulsively on ActBlue, clicking like a slot machine addict, animated as many of us are by fear and hatred of Trump but also so wealthy she doesn't have to think about how much money she's spending, and she didn't think about it, and ended up donating a lot more money than you're allowed to donate in some of those campaigns:
“If $2,700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money,” she told the Post. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to… I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”
The Post found that she gave $2950 to Adam Schiff’s primary campaign, $3450 to Omar Vaid’s primary campaign, $3600 to Conor Lamb’s special election campaign, $4200 to Lauren Underwood’s primary campaign, and $4700 to Doug Jones’s special election campaign.
I'm guessing from those names she's got MSNBC on the TV while she's doing it, too. She's donating the way Trump tweets, in TV-driven bursts. But although this conduct is against the law, it doesn't even rise to the level of a misdemeanor; it is not handled by the court system but the Federal Elections Commission, and the appropriate penalty is that the candidate refunds you the excessive money. I haven't yet found a case of anybody having to pay a fine.

Our old fascist friend Dinesh D'Souza, however, is seeing or pretending to see an equivalence between this and his own notorious crime in 2012 of funneling money through straw donors—including his wife and his mistress of the moment, I've just learned, or as the DOJ report coyly put it "a woman with whom D'SOUZA was romantically involved":

In 2012, the Election Act limited campaign contributions to $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In March 2012, D’SOUZA contributed $10,000 to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long on behalf of himself and his wife, agreeing in writing to attribute that contribution as $5,000 from his wife and $5,000 from him. In August 2012, D’SOUZA directed other individuals with whom he was associated, namely his assistant and a woman with whom D’SOUZA was romantically involved (the “Straw Donors”), to make contributions to Wendy Long’s campaign for the United States Senate (the “Long Campaign”) on behalf of themselves and their spouses that totaled $20,000 with the promise that he would reimburse them for the contributions. Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions. When confronted by Ms. Long, D’SOUZA initially misled the candidate before admitting what he had done.
I'm convinced Long, a blonde former Dartmouth classmate like Laura Ingraham, is another of his many paramours (she had no chance whatever of winning against Kirsten Gillibrand and I can't imagine what he was hoping the money would do if not to get him some nookie), but I haven't got any evidence on that.

Anyway, D'Souza had to go to jail, or not exactly jail, but had to spend his nights in a kind of halfway house for eight months in 2014, while free during the day to practice his usual pursuits of hunting for grift and issuing tweets, not so much for his crime as because he insisted on stonewalling for months refusing to plead guilty until the trial was just about to begin, wasting who knows how much of the federal court system's time and money, leaving the exasperated judge to sentence him more harshly than he might have done with a less obnoxious defendant.

Nevertheless, he's been out all week shrieking about the unfairness of a world in which O'Donnell hasn't been arrested yet while he had to suffer so intensely, suggesting darkly that it must be a case of political bias—that he was punished so harshly while Rosie gets away scot-free because he was donating to Republicans and she to Democrats. And I've been letting him troll me, responding to tell him why he's wrong, though he really isn't listening.

In the latest iteration, this evening, I found some more empirical evidence on whether the criminal justice system favors Democrats (it doesn't), and thought I might as well lay it out here.

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