The longtime Democratic campaign treasurer who allegedly stole millions of dollars from her clients had a lengthy history of fines and investigations in California, but she had a relatively clean record on a federal level--a few unsuccessful complaints lodged against her but no fines reported on the FEC website. Kinde Durkee, who U.S. Rep. Susan Davis on Monday called the "Bernie Madoff of campaign finance," is out on bail after federal agents arrested her last week on charges that she embezzled $700,000 from California Assemblyman Jose Solorio and much more from a growing list of local, state, and national politicians in California. In the latest accusation, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein said on Monday that Durkee had "wiped out" her campaign coffers.
Before her arrest on Sept. 2, California Democrats had widely sought to have Durkee's firm, Durkee and Associates, handling their finances. That's in spite of the fact that Durkee had "racked up $185,860 in fines from the [California] Fair Political Practices Commission in eight different cases," the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday. "One longtime client, state Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), fired Durkee in 2009 and notified the district attorney's office after an audit of her campaign fund by the state Franchise Tax Board turned up 'irregular activities,' " the Times reported. Durkee worked for hundreds of campaigns, and the criminal complaint against her says she had signing authority over 400 bank accounts. In addition to Solorio, Davis, and Feinstein, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez has said Durkee cleaned out her campaign fund, and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party says she stole $200,000 from it.