Will "the ultimate fight between left and right" proceed as planned? It isn't yet clear if the political debate between legendary leftist Bill Ayers (prominent in the antiwar activist Weather Underground of the 1960s) and prominent conservative Dinesh D'Souza will take place this Thursday northwest of Rochester as scheduled.
That's because D'Souza was recently arrested on suspicions that he committed white collar crimes involving violation of federal campaign contribution laws. He was freed after posting a $500,000 bond but has his travel restricted to New York and California, according to media reports.
That leaves debate organizers wondering if D'Souza will be able to make it to the debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover.
He and Ayers are scheduled to joust over the question "What's So Great About America?"
If D'Souza shows, one of his defenses of the U.S. could well be that a person can be accused of a crime in this country, but still be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The 1983 Dartmouth graduate was recently indicted on charges that he illegally funneled money to former U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long. The two are friends from their days at Dartmouth together.
Long mounted a 2012 losing battle for a New York Senate seat. D'Souza is accused of violating the law by persuading four people to give $5,000 contributions, the legal limit, to Long's campaign after allegedly giving assurances he would reimburse them.
It's against federal law for anyone to give more than $5,000 to a Senate campaign; prosecutors say that by using the straw donors, D'Souza actually gave his friend's campaign $25,000 (he had given her $5,000 directly from his own funds as well).
The author and filmmaker is also accused of making false statements to federal regulators about the donations.
D'Souza's criminal defense attorney says he doesn't "think there is much dispute as to what happened," but says he and his client will dispute the government's version of "why it happened and whether it violated federal law."
Source: NewHampshire.com, "Arrested conservative author's scheduled debate with antiwar activist at Dartmouth up in the air," Meghan Pierce, Jan. 25, 2014