What’s good for the goose is good for fraud victims

Nov. 26, 2012

Katy Grimes: Former Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee is facing only an 8-year sentence, even after she was arrested on charges of mail fraud and defrauding Democratic campaigns of millions of dollars.

The Sacramento Bee reported Monday that Federal prosecutors are planning to ask a judge to sentence Durkee to only eight years in federal prison for a record case of campaign fraud.

Durkee had access to more than 400 Democratic campaigns, political action committees and club accounts, and was found guilty of wiping out many of the accounts and stealing from active Democratic campaigns, including from U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein of San Francisco.

A not so secret past

Durkee not only pleaded guilty to stealing more than $7 million from Democratic campaigns in 2011, the campaign treasurer had a sketchy history that was not a secret.

“Many ask why Democrats allowed Durkee to continue as a treasurer despite campaign violation fines totaling $185,000, as well as criminal investigations by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office in 2008 and 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported,” I wrote in a story in Oct. 2011.

State Democrats appealed to the state Fair Political Practices Commission for a change of state campaign rules to help alleviate the pain of Durkee’s massive theft of the campaign funds. But they did this only after telling victims of financial swindles in California that they would get no special tax relief from the state.

State Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, authored a 2011 bill which would have provided tax relief for victims of fraudulent investment schemes similar to the Bernie Madoff case, by allowing a tax deduction for losses attributable to criminal investment fraud. Victims of financial fraud are allowed tax relief in many other states and by the federal government.

But Democrats in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance killed the bill, sponsored by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

Democrats in the governance committee stated they voted against Anderson’s bill because “tax relief policies would decrease state revenues and exacerbate the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit.”

Then Democrats asked the FPPC to be able to accept additional contributions to rebuild the money stolen by Durkee from campaign accounts.

Durkee’s fraud case

Federal prosecutors found that Durkee had used campaign money to pay her personal credit cards, home mortgage, business-related bills and even for her mother’s assisted-living facility. Durkee apparently created a sophisticated cover-up scheme shifting funds between candidates’ accounts to cover up the theft.

At her sentencing hearing this week, it is also expected that a restitution amount should be announced.  But I’m not sure that Democrats expect to get any money back either through more fundraising, or from squeezing blood from the turnip.

Being a fraud victim stinks, doesn’t it?


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