Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
How did DiFi get played for such a fool? Dang!
–Ponzi-watching in Poway

Dear The Ponz,
When you’re a campaign finance manager, your number one goal is to stay out of the news. If you do that, everything else is probably going okay.
By that measure — and, well, all others — Kinde Durkee ain’t doing so well.

It doesn’t help that she looks a bit like Bernie Madoff. Or that her name sounds like a soy-based lunch “meat.” Or a good-hearted cartoon turkey.  Or whatever. Point is, it’s about as bizarre, memorable and likable as the JFK assassination. Heck, she’ll probably be a verb by the time this is all over. Or a noun-verb. Whatever part of speech that would be when you “go all Kinde Durkee” on someone.

Now it’s hardly surprising that someone involved with politics might be as honest as a Mexico City cop a week from payday. Or that when that dishonesty was found out, it would come in the form of a Ponzi scheme, as you so aptly note.

Cause, when all is said and indicted, that’s what it was. She supposedly moved one candidate’s money around to cover for another, until someone got wise and the whole thing came crashing down like the House of Lehman. Ever play that sex ed game where everybody has a paper bag with different colors of M&Ms in it? Me neither, but somebody told me about it once, and that’s what these accounts looked like by the end: Correa’s green mixed in with DiFi’s brown and Solario’s orange and Sanchez’s blue and pretty soon you’ve got a real proper mess. And you wonder why kids choose sexting over the real thing. Oh, and she ate all the M&Ms.

Point is, I’d sleep with anything without an Adam’s apple and feel less guilt than an Amish guy who saw an ankle. But when it comes to campaign finance, the very words make me want to take four showers at the same time. Alone, for a change.

Money is dirty, and I liked getting filthy in the mother’s milk. When I was treasurer, I used to go in the vaults at night and do my best Scrooge McDuck. No, not really, but you get the idea. I loved managing the state’s money, and loved the good things I could get done with it when I was a legislator.

But my relationship with campaign money was a bit more conflicted. I could glad-hand and backslap with the worst of them, but when it came to keeping my mouth shut and not offending a key donor, well, you read this column, so you know how that went.

Lucky for me, it didn’t matter as much in my day, when the population of California was 12 and we all rode donkeys around town. Today it’s all about television, a medium that has the same relation to truth as cyanide does to health food. Candidates rush and rush to fill up the coffers, even when they’re running basically unopposed, because if they’re gonna have a career down the line they need the dough and there it is, just sitting there, waiting for someone who knows all the account numbers. If we don’t hear about any other Kindee Durkees in the near future, I bet it’s because a few people got smart and covered their tracks.

And there could be help on the way. The way things are going, more and more of the money going into a race is completely outside the candidate’s control. Its corporations and unions and interest groups babbling on and going off-message and lying and all those other things candidates usta had to do themselves. Maybe we should just get rid of candidates raising money themselves and just outsource the whole political process to these so-called third parties. The elected could keep their hands clean, and heck, we may not have a choice anyhow.

There was a time when this stuff worried me. Now it almost looks like a solution.

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: