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FBI alleges Democratic campaign treasurer looted lawmaker’s account

Federal agents contend that Kinde Durkee, a major Democratic campaign treasurer, tapped some $677,000 in political cash from the account of an Orange County lawmaker to pay for her own expenses, including her company’s payroll and her mother’s assisted living facility.

The Orange County Register reported that the FBI made the allegations in a criminal complaint filed by the FBI. Durkee, a long-time Democratic campaign functionary, was arrested Friday by the FBI on suspicion of mail fraud.

According to the complaint, Durkee allegedly moved money between Assembly Jose Solorio’s political account and those of U.S. Reps. Loretta Sanchez, a Lynwood Democrat, and Susan Davis, D-San Diego; and Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Kron, the newspaper reported.

Durkee’s company serves as treasurer for scores of campaign committees, include accounts for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana; Assemblymen Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, and Roger Hernandez, D-Baldwin Park; State Sens. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance and Curren Price, D-Los Angeles; Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian; and former Orange County lawmaker Tom Umberg.

Correa told the Orange County Register on Saturday that after talking with the FBI he believes he has lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

A listing of Durkee’s campaign committees active in 2011 can be see here.

The FBI noted that in a campaign disclosure report filed in October 2010, Solorio’s 2010 Assembly account had $729,135.56 in cash on hand. However, according to bank records cited in the complaint, the actual balance was only $33,175.81 as of Sept. 30, 2010.

The complaint alleges she defrauded Solorio by taking $677,000 from his campaign account.

The complaint also alleges that Durkee, who was interviewed by FBI agents last Thursday, acknowledged that “she had been misappropriating her clients money for years and that forms she filed with the state were false.”

Lauren Horwood, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, said the investigation is ongoing.

There was no immediate comment from Durkee.

Durkee and Associates says on its website: “Since 1972 we have worked for 5 presidential campaigns, 4 gubernatorial campaigns, numerous senate, congressional, state and local candidates, initiatives, political action committees and many non-profit associates and small businesses.”

The newspaper noted that Durkee has had enforcement actions taken against her four times by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, primarily for failing to report transactions or information. She has also received at least a half a dozen enforcement warning letters from the commission and stipulated to a violation before the City of San Diego Ethics Commission.

Ed’s Note: Updates earlier with details of complaint


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