12:09 PM PST 1/24/2014 by Paul Bond, The Hollywood Reporter
Dinesh D’Souza pleaded “not guilty” Friday in New York during his arraignment on federal charges that he violated campaign finance laws by donating $20,000 to a friend who unsuccessfully ran for Hillary Clinton‘s U.S. Senate seat in 2012.
D’Souza’s bail was set at $500,000 and he was released after promising that one financially responsible person would sign “a personal recognizance bond” within a week. The case was then adjourned until March 4. D’Souza spent six hours at the courthouse and was briefly handcuffed.
D’Souza, the filmmaker behind 2016: Obama’s America, also must surrender his passport, adhere to pretrial supervision, make no new travel applications and restrict travel to the continental U.S. with prior approval.
D’Souza is in the midst of making his follow-up to 2016, a documentary called America that is set for release July 4. Sources say D’Souza had planned to head from New York to Oklahoma to shoot re-creations of American historical events, and insiders say those plans probably won’t need to be changed in light of D’Souza’s travel restrictions.
In an indictment late Thursday federal authorities accused D’Souza of directing certain people to make political donations to a candidate before reimbursing them. In this way, he could funnel more money to a campaign than would be legal, authorities allege.
The indictment doesn’t name the candidate, but sources say it was Republican Wendy Long, who ran for U.S. Senate against now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat.
D’Souza’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said D’Souza’s action were merely “an act of misguided friendship” and that it didn’t involve “any knowledge by the candidate that campaign finance rules may have been violated.” He also said that “there was never a corrupt agreement of any kind.”