CHARLESTON (AP) — The West Virginia GOP canceled an event with a conservative scholar who was to deliver the keynote address four days before his sentencing for federal campaign finance violations.
Dinesh D’Souza will no longer address the state GOP during the party’s annual Victory Dinner on Sept. 19, said state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas. The party announced the event Wednesday morning and canceled it later in the day.
The event will be rebooked later this year with a different headliner.
A San Diego resident, D’Souza created the high-grossing documentary “2016: Obama’s America” that criticized the president.
In May, D’Souza pleaded guilty in Manhattan, New York, federal court to getting two associates to make $10,000 contributions to Wendy Long with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions, which he did soon afterward. Long lost the 2012 U.S. Senate race in New York to Democratic incumbent Kristen Gillibrand.
D’Souza, 53, could face 10 to 16 months in prison. His sentencing is Sept. 23 in Manhattan.
In a Wednesday morning news release, Lucas called D’Souza a “brilliant academic” and a “warrior for more than 20 years for conservative values.” There was no mention of D’Souza’s legal woes.
After canceling the event, Lucas still praised the author and filmmaker.
“Dinesh D’Souza’s conservative message is a tremendous and timeless one on the past glories of our nation and what we must do to preserve it for the sake of freedom worldwide,” Lucas said in an email.
D’Souza is also a former policy analyst under President Ronald Reagan.
D’Souza started a bus tour in mid-June before the release of his new movie, “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” based off his book with the same name. He has continued making national media appearances since pleading guilty.
Other Republican groups have welcomed in D’Souza. Eleven days after his guilty plea, he spoke in front of the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. The prominent conservative event featured speakers ranging from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said during his May plea hearing. “I deeply regret my conduct.”
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said D’Souza’s appearance would be an “insult to West Virginians.”
One of West Virginia’s most prominent Republicans wasn’t on board with the speaking engagement.
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for Senate, said she wouldn’t attend the event or let her name be associated with it, said campaign spokeswoman Amy Graham.