KINDE DURKEE: THE QUESTION ISN’T IF SHE DID IT, BUT WHERE SHE PUT ITBy admin
Kinde Durkee’s plea of guilty Friday to five counts of mail fraud against her clients—translation, to embezzling more than $7 million from the campaign bank accounts of California political candidates—did not answer the question that’s been asked most since since she was arrested in September: Where did the money go?
“Everyone is trying to figure that out, and nobody seems to know,” attorney Atticus Wegman said of the money trail left by Durkee, a campaign treasurer to a huge number of candidates. “Even if, for the past five or 10 years, she was just taking money out and spending it here or there, it’s hard to say how that would take up all the money that she pulled out.”
Wegman’s firm, Aitken Aitken Cohn, is representing several local officeholders—among them Congresswomen Linda Sánchez, Loretta Sanchez and Rep. Laura Richardson— in a civil lawsuit filed against Durkee and the bank in which she maintained their accounts.
Durkee was initially accused of using her firm, Durkee & Associates, to siphon nearly $700,000 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.
But the scope of the embezzlement probe has widened since her arrest. Prosecutors now say Durkee stole at least $7 million, and that figure could rise to as much as $10 million by the time they sort through account statements and banking records.
Lawmakers and organizations that have already told the Federal Election Commission that Durkee embezzled funds from their accounts include Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Davis, both Sanchez sisters and four separate Democratic Party groups representing Los Angeles and Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.