Theft Hits Races in California
Will it affect races, and after the embezzlement will donors be willing to still contribute?
More than $5.2 million is missing from the campaign coffers of California Democrats on the Hill, and hundreds of thousands more are unavailable for withdrawal in the wake of an alleged embezzlement scandal that has rocked the Democratic Party in the Golden State and all but wiped out hundreds of bank accounts associated with state, House and Senate campaigns.
Those hardest-hit by what is now the largest campaign-embezzlement scandal to date are Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose re-election campaign reported a cash-on-hand adjustment of more than $4.5 million due to misappropriated funds; Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), whose campaign adjusted its cash-on-hand figure by $160,015 to account for allegedly embezzled funds; and Reps. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and her sister Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), whose campaigns reported missing about $322,123 and $125,000, respectively.
The losses — which typically are appearing as adjustments to cash-on-hand figures during the most recent batch of campaign finance filings submitted to the Federal Election Commission — are likely to grow as campaigns continue to identify suspicious transactions that allegedly allowed a trusted bookkeeper to misappropriate millions of dollars from nearly 400 client accounts.
Kinde S. Durkee, 58, was arrested in early September on suspicion that she used her bookkeeping firm Durkee & Associates to siphon about $677,000 from the election campaign of California Assemblyman Jose Solorio to pay for an array of personal expenses that included clothing, cosmetics, her cable bill and an assisted-living facility for her mother.