Calif. campaign finance scandal widens

by
September 13, 2011

By JOHN BRESNAHAN & JONATHAN ALLEN | Politico

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she was “wiped out” by Kinde Durkee, a well-connected California Democratic political operative who served as treasurer for hundreds of state, local and federal campaign committees.

Durkee was arrested by the FBI on Sept. 2 on allegations of fraud surrounding the diversion of more than $670,000 from the reelection committee for a California state assemblyman, and a growing list of California Democrats, including Feinstein and Reps. Susan Davis and Loretta Sanchez, now appear to victims as well.

“I was wiped out too, we don’t know how much,” said Feinstein, indicating the losses in campaign funds could run into hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Feinstein, who is up for reelection next year, reported just over $5 million in the bank as of June 30, according to disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“She did my ‘92 campaign, my ‘94 campaign, my 2000 [campaign], my 2006 [campaign] … my gubernatorial campaign,” Feinstein told POLITICO on Monday, describing her long relationship with Durkee. “I trusted her implicitly.”

Feinstein said she and her campaign staff have been unable to access all their bank records at this point because Durkee alone controlled access to the account, which has made it difficult for them to assess how much money is gone.

“It’s very painful,” Feinstein added.

Davis is missing more than $250,000 from her reelection committee. Loretta Sanchez has already declared her $379,000 campaign war chest was “nearly wiped out” by Kindee. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party reported that it lost at least $200,000, while California Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D) may be out as much as $677,000.

And dozens of other campaign committees have yet to declare whether they suffered losses as well.

Durkee has not been formally accused of any wrondoing in connection with missing funds from the campaign accounts of Feinstein, Davis or Sanchez at this time, but Justice Department officials allege that Durkee moved money from one of Solorio’s accounts into an account she controlled and then wrote a check for $125,000 to Sanchez’s campaign shortly before last November’s congressional elections.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/63299.html#ixzz1Xn6jinn3

 

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