Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee gets 8 years in prison

kinde durkee

California Democratic Council, Henry Vandermeir/AP

Former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee had more than 50 Democratic clients who will likely recoup only a fraction of their losses.

Former Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in federal prison for defrauding high-profile clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of at least $7 million.

Durkee, 59, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. She pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud. The judge also ordered Durkee to pay $10.5 million in restitution to her victims. 

Durkee appeared in court for the sentencing dressed all in black.  Reading from a prepared statement, her voice quavering at times, Durkee apologized to her former clients and employees. “I’m truly sorry for the hurt I have caused.” she said.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller called Durkee’s crimes “significant and egregious.”
She said “the violation of trust cannot be overstated and the potential that certain elections were affected.”

The judge added it was Durkee's “inability to acknowledge her limits that led to her downfall.”


Maven's Morning Coffee: Democrats' super-majority, treasurer gets sentenced, 101 Safe Surrenders in LA County

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democrats now have a super-majority in Sacramento, but they likely won't take advantage of that power until next fall.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Wednesday, Nov. 28, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Democrats aren't likely to benefit from their super-majorities in Sacramento until the fall, reports KPCC. "They’ll start off with it but then the dominoes will fall with the different races, people moving up to Congress, people moving up to the state senate," according to political consultant Steve Maviglio.

Former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee will be sentenced today in Sacramento for stealing millions of dollars from her Democratic clients. The LA Weekly reports Durkee agrees with the prosecutors' recommendation that she spend eight years in prison.


Democrats unlikely to leverage Sacramento super majority until fall

Freshman Congress

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Gloria Negrete-McLeod (right) — seen at orientation week at the Capitol — will leave a vacancy in the state legislature when she resigns to take her seat in the House of Representatives.

When California’s state legislature convenes next week to swear in new members, Democrats will have a so-called super majority in both houses: a two-thirds majority in each chamber that empowers them to pass taxes without Republican votes and to override a gubernatorial veto. 

But that advantage could prove elusive for Democrats in the coming months.

One month after California’s newly elected senators and assembly members take their seats, two Democratic senators will head to Congress: Juan Vargas of San Diego and Gloria Negrete-McLeod of San Bernardino.

Shannan Velayas of the Secretary of State’s office says when those senators depart, it’ll trigger a special election to fill the vacancies: “The state senator must step down from office before the governor can call an election to fill that vacancy.”


Anschutz Entertainment Group to host mayoral fundraiser for Jan Perry

Jan Perry

Courtesy of Perry campaign

AEG will host a fundraiser for Jan Perry's mayoral campaign next month. The ticket price? $1,300.

In Los Angeles, the nexus of politics and business often involves the Anschutz Entertainment Group — and that will be especially true when the company hosts a fundraiser for mayoral candidate Jan Perry.

Call it an act of gratitude. As an L.A. City Councilwoman, Perry has long represented — and supported — AEG’s downtown campus, which includes Staples Center and L.A. Live. She also voted for the Farmers Field football stadium, which will be built on adjacent property if the NFL moves a team here. 

This will be AEG’s first fundraiser for Perry’s mayoral campaign. According to the most recent  contribution report, her campaign has raised $1.3 million — less than half as much as Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti, who each reported raising $2.8 million for their mayoral bids.


Bloom's lead over Butler widens in close Westside Assembly race

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom leads Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the close 50th Assembly District race.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom's narrow lead has widened to 888 votes over Assemblywoman Betsy Bloom in the still-undecided race to represent the 50th Assembly District. More than 178,000 votes have been counted in the district, which includes Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills.

The count was updated Monday as the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office carried out its sixth tally of votes that were mailed in, dropped off at polling places or cast as provisional ballots on Nov. 6.

Bloom has led after each of the updated counts, often by a few hundred, but that lead has been as narrow as 79 votes just last week. The next updated count is scheduled for Wednesday, with a possible final update on Monday, if necessary. The county must report results of the Nov. 6 elections to the Secretary of State by Dec. 4, said Registrar spokeswoman Talyssa Gonzales.