The Madeleine Brand Show for March 28, 2012

Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee expected to plead guilty to embezzling $8 million

Kinde Durkee

California Democratic Council, Henry Vandermeir/AP

Kinde Durkee is being charged with costing Southern California Democrats hundreds of thousands of dollars, siphoned from their campaigns.

Federal prosecutors say Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee defrauded at least 50 candidates,
officeholders and political groups out of up to $8 million. Durkee was arrested in September and charged with suspicion of mail fraud after millions of dollars disappeared from the campaign accounts of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic members of Congress and several Democratic state lawmakers.

Kinde Durkee is expected to plead guilty to embezzlement later this week in a plea deal, Politico reports. None of the money has been recovered to date.

Among the money she allegedly embezzled is $4.5 million from Feinstein's Senate committee, $660,000 from a California state lawmaker's campaign account, and a combined $1.4 million from Democrats Rep. Linda Sanchez, Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Rep. Susan Davis. Several of the affected politicians have filed suit against Burkee and the bank where their reelection money was being kept, First California Bank. Feinstein replaced the money for her campaign from her own pocket with a $5 million check.

It's considered the largest embezzlement case in U.S. election history. Federal prosecutors are expected to recommend that Durkee be sentenced to between 11 and 14 years in prison. In addition to the embezzlement, Durkee's also expected to plead guilty to at least five counts of fraud.


Jonathan Allen covers Congress for Politico.

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