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Anti-Obama filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza charged with campaign fraud

Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker behind the critical documentary "2016: Obama's America," has been indicted in New York on charges he violated campaign finance laws, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets.

Federal prosecutors charged D'Souza with directing $20,000 in illegal contributions to be made to Republican U.S. Senate candidate from New York Wendy Long, who lost to Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in last year's election.

D'Souza pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond Friday. His travel is restricted to the United States.

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D'Souza is a former policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan and author of the 2010 book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," which largely informs his scathing film "2016: Obama's America." The book and film argue that Obama's politics have been shaped by "the Third World radicalism of his own absentee father."

Many film critics panned "Obama's America" upon its release in August 2012, including The Times' Betsy Sharkey, who wrote that it "promises to demystify the president … but does more to illuminate its filmmaker, Dinesh D'Souza, and his ego instead."

Variety's Joe Leydon was kinder, writing, "While it’s highly unlikely that anyone predisposed to championing Obama would be won over by the sound and fury here, there’s no gainsaying the value of '2016' as a sort of Cliffs Notes precis of the conservative case against the re-election of our current U.S. president."

In spite of its tepid reviews, "Obama's America" managed to reel in $6.5 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada over its opening weekend in August 2012, edging out Sony Pictures' bike messenger thriller "Premium Rush" as the weekend's top new film. It went on to gross $33.4 million.

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