D'Souza, 53, faces time in federal prison for using straw donors to provide money for Wendy Long, a Republican who lost to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. But his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he hopes D'Souza will be spared incarceration.
While the penalty set by federal guidelines is 10 to 16 months, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said he could impose as much as two years, along with a large fine and loss of voting rights. The judge scheduled sentencing for September.
"We are hopeful that Judge Berman will recognize Mr. D'Souza to be a fundamentally honorable man who should not be imprisoned for what was an isolated instance of wrongdoing in an otherwise productive and responsible life," Brafman said in a statement.
D'Souza, born in Mumbai, came to the United States as an exchange student at an Arizona high school in 1979. He became known as a conservative activist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and went on to a career at right-wing publications and magazines with a short stint in the White House under President Ronald Reagan.
In 2012, D'Souza was fired as president of Kings College, a small Christian institution in New York after an adulterous affair became public. He is the author of numerous books and produced a documentary, "2016: Obama's America" in the run up to the 2012 election.
"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 as he entered his plea. "I deeply regret my conduct."
D'Souza was set to go on trial when he changed his plea.