Kinde Durkee, the California campaign treasurer expected to plead guilty this week to embezzling as much as $8 million from at least 50 Democratic political clients including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, allegedly squandered the money on a variety of pretty pedestrian expenses. She's been called the "Madoff of campaign finance," but where the actual Bernie Madoff built himself a life of luxury surrounded by mink coats, Rolex watches, jewels, and a yacht, court papers filed on Monday (in anticipation of an expected plea deal later this week) show Durkee went a much more middle-brow route with her alleged check-kiting scheme, spending the money on groceries, her mother's senior citizens' home, mortgage on her own Long Beach condominium, and her employees' 401(k) accounts. None of the funds have so far been recovered, Politico reports.
The Associated Press notes that "In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein's account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe's and Turners Outdoorsman." Politico narrowed down the Disneyland expense to Ariel's Grotto restaurant and lists a few more companies that any middle-class Southern Californian might have on their expense sheet: "Sprint, Anthem Blue Cross, Union 76, Amazon.com ... Baskin-Robbins, Tivo, Bixby Animal Clinic, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, [and] Harbor Freight Tools." Of course, Madoff made off with about $50 billion in stolen funds, so he's in a whole different league, but still, we can think of some slightly more exciting places to spend $8 million than Trader Joe's.
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