CA Campaign Treasurer pleads guilty to stealing $7 million from candidates
We wrote about Kinde Durkee when she was indicted last September. At the time, the extent of her wrong doing was unknown.
On Friday, Durkee pleaded guilty to stealing more than $7 million from 50 clients over the past 11 years.
Durkee, 59, was charged with five counts of mail fraud, and federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 11 to 14 years. Durkee is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Federal officials said Durkee's motivation was simply "greed." Durkee used the millions she stole from lawmakers such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to pay for a variety of personal expenses, including mortgage payments, American Express bills, her mother's retirement home, payroll for her company, even tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Disneyland.
Due to her excellent reputation among California Democrats, Durkee had easy access to as many as 700 campaign bank accounts. When California state election monitors began looking into funds missing from the campaign account of a local politician, Durkee simply moved money from other lawmakers' campaigns to cover up her theft.
None of the money that Durkee stole has been recovered at this time. But she and her husband have agreed to turn over to the Justice Department property they own in Burbank, which will then sell.
Feinstein and other California Democrats - including Reps. Loretta and Linda Sanchez and Rep. Susan Davis - have sued her for millions in lost campaign donations.
It seems incredible that she could have gotten away with her crimes for 11 years. Internal auditing should have found those discrepancies - especially in those amounts - and should have been red flagged and some kind of investigation begun. The fact that she came close to getting caught only once highlights a lack of oversight on the part of California Democrats.