If you suspect that politics might have played a role in the Justice Department bringing charges against conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, consider the financial support to Barack Obama from a key DOJ lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s office that filed the charges.
Each U.S. Attorney’s office has a lone District Election Officer (“DEO”). The DEO is the singular point person in each U.S. Attorney office for any matter related to an election or campaign finance. The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York is the office which brought the campaign finance charges against D’Souza.
David Kennedy is the designated District Election Officer in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. According to Federal Election Commission records, Kennedy is also a campaign contributor to Barack Obama as well as to John Kerry. Kennedy has also contributed to state campaigns, including New York Democrat Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.
D’Souza’s case is called a “conduit” case. The Justice Department alleges that he provided funds to other people to contribute to a candidate for United States Senate, thereby avoiding the maximum contribution limits.
D’Souza’s film 2016 portrays Barack Obama as a product of a third world hostility toward Western colonialism and having an fierce aversion to American values of individual liberty, self-reliance and the rule of law. It is the 4th highest grossing documentary of all time.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former counsel to an Assistant Attorney General at DOJ who was responsible for election matters, described the central role of the DEO in any election matter which touches a U.S. Attorney’s office. “All election-related prosecutions go through the DEO in the offices of United States attorneys located across the country,” he said.
DEOs at the Justice Department received specific training on how to search public records and look for conduit cases. DEOs were trained by lawyers from the DOJ Public Integrity Section how to use public FEC files to look for data patterns and information which may betray a possible conduit case. David Kennedy has been the DEO for the Southern District of New York at least since 2010.
Not only is DEO Kennedy a Obama campaign contributor, he also has a reputation as a proud and vocal liberal, not afraid to boast about his ideological worldview.
One lawyer familiar with Kennedy at DOJ told me, “Kennedy did not try to hide his political views, and they were liberal.”
Kennedy also had a meddlesome reputation among election lawyers at DOJ’s Washington headquarters for imposing unconventional arrangements to micromanage election matters in Manhattan which were normally managed in Washington D.C.
Even if Kennedy is a financial supporter of President Obama and a proud loud liberal, there is nothing illegal about those donations and actions.
The Justice Department prohibits political involvement by employees in some DOJ components, but not District Election Officers even though electoral politics are central to the DEO job.
“While there is no doubt that federal employees are entitled to make political donations, DEOs – who make decisions on the investigation and prosecution of election crimes – should not make such donations,” Von Spakovsky said. “Doing so inevitably compromises their credibility and will raise the appearance of bias and a conflict of interest in the eyes of the public.”
The DOJ does not replace DEOs who make contributions to candidates.