Dem campaign treasurer may have sticky fingers

Politics runs on money and campaigns on all levels go through a lot of it. One of the unsung but critical positions in any political operation is the treasurer. The sheer amount of paperwork involved, reports to be filed, deadlines to be met and a library full of campaign finance laws to obey makes it a daunting job, so you’ve got to make sure you have someone reliable in the spot. Sadly, a large number of Democrats on the left coast are waking up this holiday weekend to find they may have put their trust in the wrong person. Meet Kinde Durkee, currently a resident at the crowbar hotel.

SACRAMENTO – A prominent Democratic campaign treasurer who works for federal, state and O.C. lawmakers including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Rep. Loretta Sanchez and state Assemblymen Lou Correa and Jose Solorio has been arrested by the FBI on suspicion of mail fraud, The Orange County Register has learned.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek confirmed Saturday afternoon that Kinde Durkee of Burbank-based Durkee and Associates, was arrested by the FBI on a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento. Special Agent Steve Dupre of the bureau’s Sacramento office said she was arrested in connection with her position as a campaign treasurer.

The actual charge is “mail fraud.” This is something of a catch-all that can cover a wide range of criminal activities, but it generally winds up with money showing up in pockets where it doesn’t belong.

There are multiple reports floating around and Ms. Durkee’s list of clients goes far beyond the couple of big ticket names provided above such as Feinstein and Sanchez. She also either represents or has previously represented The California Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Orange County Democratic Party and more. Also, while I wasn’t personally aware of her before this, it seems this isn’t the first time Kinde has been in trouble. The article lists past instances where her practice has been called in for questions and one investigative reporter in L.A. (see update below) has apparently been waiting for this day for some time.

Thrilled that the FBI has FINALLY arrested Kinde Durkee of Durkee and Associates who is one of the biggest political treasurers in California is BEHIND BARS. Lots of buzz around the case.
As soon as I can get my hands on the arrest details (may not be available till Tuesday) I will post them here on my blog. Wonder who is next?…

Wonder how many people are going to “go down” in this case? This could become another “Whose Who Of Politics” pointing fingers in everyone else’s direction. Not a “good Labor Day Weekend” here in Democratic California…

Have you been burned by Durkee and Associates?

We should be careful not to jump to any conclusions and impugn any of Durkee’s clients without additional facts. During our congressional campaign last year we went with a guy who has a very respected firm based in Buffalo, NY which handles accounts for many GOP and Conservative Party candidates and organizations. He did a great job, but the blizzard of paperwork he had to handle was far more than I could ever have kept track of.

He also knew plenty of horror stories about unscrupulous treasurers who had been caught pulling all manner of scams, and it’s apparently far too easy for a crook to slip through the cracks. They have used more dodges than you could imagine, such as renting non-existent “office space” for the campaign from crooked real estate agents and splitting the cash with them. The list goes on.

Full details of the complaint against Durkee probably won’t be released until Tuesday, given the holiday weekend. We’ll post an update when they become available.

Update (Ed): The investigative reporter at the link above is Randy Economy, who was also one of my classmates at Cerritos High School and who has been doing great local blogging in Southern California.  Be sure to check out his work.