Originally posted at WND by Jerome R. Corsi.
If you are going to bend Federal Election Commission rules by setting up straw donor contributions — essentially donating in someone else’s name — it appears a prudent preparation for the potential of being caught is to be a Democrat planning to donate to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
An analysis of how the federal judiciary system has treated two naturalized American citizens, both born in India and each found guilty of scheming to use straw donors to make campaign contributions, reveals a stark contrast.
In one case, the Democrat donor, the penalty is essentially a wrist-slap. In the other, the donor who wasn’t a Democrat, the penalty includes jail bars, monitoring for years — and even a judge who concludes court-appointed psychologists are wrong when they say the defendant needs no further thought-coaching.
Sant Singh Chatwal
The case of Indian-born naturalized U.S. citizen Sant Singh Chatwal reveals how the federal justice system is capable of finding a way to excuse behavior and administer a minor reprimand.
In 2014, Chatwal pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal district court to arranging multiple straw donors in a lavish scheme to give tens of thousands of dollars into Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, plus funneling additional tens of thousands of dollars illegally into the federal campaigns of three other Democratic candidates between 2007 and 2011, including Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut.
The federal district judge sentencing Chatwal limited his punishment to three years parole, even after Chatwal admitted his goal in arranging the straw contributions to Democrats was to buy political influence in the White House and on Capitol Hill for himself and family, as well as for his many business associates, and numerous friends.
The issue has arisen because of the recent case against conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, a former college president who became a vocal political critic of the far left after he changed careers to become a highly successful documentary filmmaker and bestselling author who has openly criticized the policies not only of President Barack Obama but also the Clintons.
Today, Chatwal finds himself on parole, under a federal sentence that excused him from any prison time and included neither nighttime detention nor any requirement to perform any community service.
D’Souza in contrast, was sentenced to eight months of nighttime detention at a federal facility in San Diego and remains on parole now. But he also is being forced, until September 2019, to devote one day a week community service teaching English to Spanish-speaking applicants to be U.S. citizens.
On Monday, as WND reported, a Clinton-appointed federal judge in Manhattan ordered D’Souza to continue psychological counseling that qualified, board-certified psychological doctors say he does not need.
What was D’Souza’s crime?
D’Souza pleaded guilty to a federal felony, admitting he uncharacteristically violated the law by convincing two associates to donate each to the unsuccessful Senate race of Wendy Long, a college friend.
Breaking campaign finance laws, D’Souza reimbursed to each of his two straw donors the $5,000 each had contributed, a misstep D’Souza could have avoided by contributing the $10,000 to a PAC supporting Long’s candidacy directly.
He’s called in an “impulsive decision” he reached without giving the matter much thought.
“I really should have called my lawyer to get some advice,” D’Souza told WND in a telephone interview. “There were any number of ways I could have gotten Wendy Long the $10,000 legally. If I had just gifted her the money, there would have been no legal problem. But I was in a rush and I made a quick decision that I obviously should have thought about more seriously.”
Except for this offense, D’Souza, now 54 years old, has a completely clean criminal record.
The big, fat Sikh wedding
But in an article published March 5, 2006, entitled “Vikram’s Big Fat Sikh Wedding,” New York magazine described the wedding Chatwal threw for his then 34 year-old son, Vikram Chatwal, noting, “When one of New York’s most-eligible, hard-living, jet-setting, model-dating, turban-wearing bachelors decides (or, more generously, when his dad decides) the time has come for him to get married, it’s bound to be quite a party.”
The keynote guest-speaker at the wedding in India that New York magazine described as lasting a week, with 10 parties spread out over three cities and a thousand guests who were transported by three chartered 737s and “a small air force of private jets,” was none other than former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
While at the time, New York magazine noted that Vikram was the president of his father’s company managing the multi-continental hotel-and-restaurant chain, Hampshire Hotels, controlled by his father, Vikram was more precisely identified as “a Bollywood actor, better known for dating Gisele — he got a G tattooed on his arm — and hitting New York nightclubs in a red and white turban with P. Diddy and Naomi Campbell.”
After toasting the bride and groom, the father, Sant Chatwal, asked Clinton what he thought of his son’s choice for a wife.
According to the magazine, Clinton told Sant Chatwal that, “I spent an hour with Priya, and you’re very lucky. Priya is a very amazing girl.”
In April 2013, Vikram had been arrested trying to board a flight in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, carrying cocaine, marijuana, prescription pills, all attesting to his several failed episodes undergoing rehabilitation therapy.
The New York Post reported the 17th Circuit Court in Broward County, Florida, “totally dismissed” the case against Vikram Chatwal that led back to his arrest in April 2013 at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on narcotics charges, citing as a reason his one-year drug rehabilitation program in New York City.
“Vikram earnestly strove, this past year, to address addiction issues, and thankfully the Broward County judicial system recognize that Vikram’s arrest was not the product of criminal conduct, but rather the unfortunate medical by-product of substance dependency,” Chatwal’s attorney, Mark Heller, told the newspaper.
Chatwal: ‘A regular at the Clinton Global Initiative’
In an article published on April 17, 2014, in the International New York Times, headlined “Clinton Backer Pleads Guilty in a Straw Donor Scheme,” Sant Singh Chatwal was described as having filed for bankruptcy protection in 1995 and in 1997, while also being sued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for his role in a failed New York bank, an incident for which fraud charges against Chatwal were dropped in 2000.
“In April 2007, Mr. Chatwal formed ‘Indian Americans for Hillary in 2008,’ and pledged to raise $5 million for her presidential campaign,” the newspaper reported. “One of the straw donor schemes that prosecutors sketched out in court records started that year . Mr. Chatwal asked an associate, who owed him $2.5 million, to help him raise money for a candidate, prosecutors said. The court records say the associated distributed $90,000 and kept a ‘minimal sum’ as a ‘commission,’ and that Mr. Chatwal reduced the total the associate owed him by $100,000.”
“Mr. Chatwal could be frank about the power of money in politics,” the International New York Times continued. “In the fall of 2010, according to court documents, Mr. Chatwal and a business owner who is now cooperating with prosecutors decided they should raise money, using straw donors, for another candidate so the candidate might intervene with a federal agency that had issued an ‘adverse ruling’ regarding the other person’s business.
“‘That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system,’ Mr. Chatwal was recorded as saying to the person, who by then was cooperating with prosecutors,” the newspaper reported.
Noting that Chatwal, in addition to his other legal problems, owes millions in back taxes, ultimately estimated at $30 million owed to a combination of the IRS and New York state, the International New York Times article observed Chatwal was a “regular” at the Clinton Global Initiative.
The article concluded “it was not hard to discern Chatwal’s motivation” for his straw donor contribution, given that in a recorded conversation with a government informant Chatwal once described the importance of campaign contributions as follows: “Without that nobody will even talk to you. When they are in need of money, the money you give, then they are always there for you. That’s how you buy them.”
In 2010, Chatwal provide campaign contributions to Florida Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, a Democrat who was then running unsuccessfully against former Florida Charlie Crist, then running as an independent, and the Republican contender and eventual winner, Marco Rubio.
Judge: Cantwal’s felony ‘an aberrance’
On Dec. 18, 2014, the New York Times appeared to minimize Chatwal’s felonious behavior by saying that Chatwal, “who had pleaded guilty to skirting federal campaign-finance laws and witness tampering, had avoided being sent to prison on Thursday, despite facing a possible sentence of more than five years.”
The Times report continued to explain the following: “Judge I. Leo Glasser, of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, sentenced Mr. Chatwal to three years of probation. The judge described Mr. Chatwal’s crimes as an ‘aberrance,’ and seemed swayed by the 272 letters written on his behalf; by the argument that his grown sons needed Mr. Chatwal’s help at home; and by the fact that Mr. Chatwal did not seem to personally benefit from the campaign contributions.”
The story concluded: “Judge Glasser seemed to take the position that the electoral process had become more opaque in recent years. He pointed to two recent articles in the New York Times that discussed how hidden donors were influencing the political process, along with Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon, as evidence of how much had changed since the law that Mr. Chatwal was charged with violating was passed in the 1970s.”
‘Firmly in the Clintons’ inner circle’
Investigative reporter Peter Schweizer devotes a section of his book “Clinton Cash,” [beginning page 62] to detailing the relationship with Sant Singh Chatwal that began when Chatwal first raised money for the Clintons, starting with Bill Clinton’s 1998 presidential run and continuing through Hillary’s run for the Senate in 2000.
“By the time Bill left the Oval Office in 2001, Chatwal was firmly in the Clintons’ inner circle,” Schweizer wrote. “Bill appointed him a trustee for the Clinton Foundation, an appointment reserved only for long-time friends and large financial benefactors. Chatwal had lavished money on the Clintons, including hundreds of thousands in soft-money donations and millions in campaign funds raised, and he continued his largesse once Bill was a private citizen.”
Schweizer pointed out that Chatwal helped arrange for millions of dollars in lucrative speaking fees for the former president, while he steered additional millions to the Clinton Foundation.
“When Hillary ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, he [Chatwal] was co-chair of her presidential exploratory committee,” Schweizer noted. “He even received that most prized of gifts in the Clinton universe: an invitation to attend Chelsea’s wedding.”
“But what Sant Chatwal wanted for all that money extended far beyond the ordinary transactions that take place in Washington,” Schweizer wrote. “He wanted to influence American policy toward India, particularly as it related to the sensitive area of nuclear technology. He openly admitted that he ‘spent tons of money, time, and effort to make sure the [Indian-U.S.] nuclear deal went through.’
“In the end, both Bill, who had initially imposed the sanctions against the nuclear government, and Hillary who supported that policy played a role in getting them lifted,” Schweizer argued. “Shortly after the legislation passed, the Indian government granted one of the most prestigious civilian awards to a close Clinton family friend precisely because, as they saw it, he got Hillary to support the legislation.”
The recipient of that award from the Indian government was Sant Singh Chatwal.
Schweizer concluded his discussion of Chatwal by noting that once Chatwal pleaded guilty to felony violations of campaign contributions regarding straw donors, the Clinton Foundation “has erased any mention of him” from the foundation’s website, despite the fact Chatwal was a longtime member of the Clinton Foundation board of trustees.
WND has reported that D’Souza, after serving time in custody, has been ordered to another four years of community service. In addition, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled based on his own judgment, which contradicted that of court-appointed counselors, D’Souza must continue counseling.
D’Souza already had served eight months in a work-release center, was on five years of probation, facing a $30,000 fine and more.
D’Souza’s supporters contend the case was politically motivated payback for his two successful documentaries and companion bestselling books critical of Obama and what D’Souza regards as an anti-American ideology.
Read more at WND.
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