Category Archive: Kinde Durkee

Nov 26 2012

Feds Say 8 Years in Prison for Convicted Democratic Treasurer Kinde Durkee

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Kinde Durkee

Kinde Durkee, AP Photo

Well, Kinde Durkee stole more than $7 million over the years from Democratic Party POLS.

Federal prosecutors have recommended that former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee be sentenced to 97 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud involving the theft of more than $7 million in political funds from 50 clients, according to documents released Monday.

Durkee’s victims included U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein; and Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson of Long Beach; Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove; Linda T. Sanchez of Lakewood; and Susan A. Davis of San Diego.

No sympathy for me for this thief. But, let this be a word to the wise for POLS and aspiring POLS.

Know who is handling your campaign money and audit them with abandon – especially if there are many donors and large sums.

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Apr 11 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 11, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Wednesday morning!The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.
The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

California controller outlines shortfall, says key months ahead

As state leaders hope for a surprise uptick in revenue this spring, state Controller John Chiang reported Tuesday that California lagged last month by $233.5 million, or 4.2 percent.

The state missed its target most in corporate income taxes, which were $125.8 million (8.2 percent) off the mark. Income taxes and sales taxes were each less than 2 percent behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s revenue forecast. For the fiscal year that ends in June, the state is now trailing Brown’s expectations by nearly $1.1 billion, or 1.9 percent.

Community college board cuts more jobs

The district that oversees Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges is eliminating 60 more jobs as it continues to cut classes, trim programs and restructure departments.

The Ventura County Community College District board voted to cut the jobs Tuesday night on a 4-0 vote. Trustee Bernardo Perez was absent.

In addition, the board voted to reduce hours for about two dozen workers. The vote is expected to save $2.6 million.

“This is one of the hardest things I think any of us will ever do,” said Trustee Dianne McKay. “We want to be good employers. We want to do what’s best for students. But the money flowing from Sacramento is making that harder and harder to do.”

Feinstein calls treasurer’s actions ‘big betrayal’

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday there was never any indication that her former campaign treasurer was mismanaging her re-election account before the treasurer’s arrest last year in a widespread embezzlement case.

“It was a big betrayal,” Feinstein told reporters after addressing Sacramento area government officials. “Oh yeah, you can imagine how you’d feel.”

Feinstein made her first public remarks on the topic after her former campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee, entered guilty pleas March 30 to five counts of mail fraud in a case that prosecutors said involved looting at least $7 million from about 50 clients.

It is believed to be the largest embezzlement case involving political campaign funds in the nation’s history.

Feinstein lost an estimated $4.5 million from her re-election account, while other Democratic members of Congress, the state Legislature and political organizations lost millions more. Durkee could face as long as 14 years in prison when she is sentenced in June.

Dan Walters: Politicians should act instead of expecting budget miracle

The Capitol is preoccupied with Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to persuade voters to raise taxes and the complicating effects of a rival tax measure sponsored by civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

With deadlines looming, will Brown and his union allies collect enough signatures to place their measure on the June ballot? Will Munger cave in to pressure from Brown, et al., to back off? If both are on the ballot, would it doom both?

The uncertainty is paralyzing the Capitol as legislative leaders refuse to mop up the red ink that’s already leaking from the current year’s budget.

The 2011-12 budget was “balanced” – quotation marks denoting its flimsy use – last year on a last-minute, miraculous assumption that the state would receive an extra $4 billion in revenue, despite the lack of any credible evidence, thereby allowing legislators to be paid.

A few months later, the administration downgraded its income forecast but, as a new report from Controller John Chiang shows, revenue is running below even those lower numbers.

Nevertheless Capitol politicians are still crossing their fingers, hoping that a surge in income taxes in April will shield them from cutting more spending.

In other words, they’re hoping for another miracle whose chances are somewhere between minuscule and none.

Enjoy your morning!

And, Dan Walters reminds California Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, just returning from his year long deployment to Afghanistan, that he did not really miss too much in the year that he missed in the California Legislature:

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Mar 28 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 28, 2012

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Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

Governor Jerry Brown has some public events today.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s calendar today includes a California National Guard ceremony at which Col. Sylvia R. Crockett will be promoted to general.

It’s a milestone for the Golden State: She’s the first Latina to attain that rank in the California National Guard, according to the governor’s office.

Crockett, who’s now assistant division commander for the 40th Infantry Division as well as director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, started her career with the California National Guard in 1982. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the the governor’s Capitol office.

Brown is also scheduled to speak with police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and others at the 20th annual legislative day of the Alliance of California Law Enforcement. That talk starts at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

On to today’s California headlines:

Calif. Democratic treasurer perpetrated $7M fraud

Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee defrauded at least 50 candidates, officeholders and political organizations out of $7 million in a scheme that dates back more than a decade, according to a court filing made Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento filed the additional charges in federal court, providing the most detailed account to date in a case that has left some Democratic candidates scrambling for campaign cash in an election year.

Such filings typically are a prelude to a plea, but prosecutors would not confirm such a development or offer any further details.

Durkee, who heads Durkee & Associates in Burbank, was arrested in September and charged with suspicion of mail fraud after millions of dollars disappeared from the campaign accounts of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic members of Congress and several Democratic state lawmakers.

The filing details a complex shell game in which Durkee shifted campaign money to cover an array of personal and business expenses.

In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein’s account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe’s and Turners Outdoorsman.

Magic Johnson group to buy Dodgers for record $2B

A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.

The price would shatter the mark for a North American sports franchise, topping the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner.

The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.

“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles,” Johnson said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and “certain affiliates of the purchasers” would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.

Rallying around Brownley

As expected, the region’s Democratic establishment is rallying around Assemblywoman Julia Brownley of Oak Park in the 26th Congressional District as party leaders and activists seek to consolidate enough support behind a single candidate to ensure a second-place finish in the June primary.

The challenge has been discussed here before at some length: With four Democrats on the ballot, a strong Republican in Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark and a strong independent in Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks, Democrats are in danger of not qualifying a candidate for the November election under the state’s new primary election system, in which only the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, make it to general election ballot.

California courts scrap $2 billion tech project

One of the largest public technology projects in California history is history.

Faced with mounting criticism about the cost, the state Judicial Council, the policy arm of the courts, on Tuesday voted to pull the plug on a $2 billion computer upgrade for California’s 58 trial courts.

The decision ended a 10-year quest to electronically unify the nation’s largest state court system, a goal that ballooned in price as California hit its worst budget crisis in years.

The council chose instead to give local courts the ability to choose their own tech improvements, setting aside $8.6 million to study that issue and perhaps salvage scraps from the abandoned project.

The computer upgrade has divided a judicial branch trying to weather more than $600 million in budget cuts over the past three years. With courts cutting hours to the public and laying off workers, the tech upgrade became a primary target of critics who said judicial leaders should abandon the project and use the money to restore or maintain other operations.

Hundreds of court employees from the Bay Area and elsewhere rallied outside the state building in San Francisco to press for an end to the tech project.

“It’s just not the right time to go forward with this project,” Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Herman, a council member who prepared a report on the upgrade, said after a nearly all-day hearing.

And, finally, Dan Walters on the California Judicial Flap:

Enjoy your morning!

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Sep 13 2011

CA-Sen: Senator Dianne Feinstein Says Her Campaign Account Was Stolen – Wiped Out

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This is not a positive campaign development for the senior Senator from California, especially since she will stand for re-election next year.
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.

Not very good oversight by Feinstein and it could be an issue in a campaign. But, nobody will challenge Feinstein from the Democratic Party side and with California being so deeply blue, she will have only token Republican opposition.

Feinstein who is a personal millionaire many times over will probably have to write her own check initially but soon will be flush with campaign cash again.

But, where did the money go?

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