California campaign manager might have stolen millions

They are already saying it could be the largest campaign embezzlement scandal in the history of American politics.

Kinde Durkee, a California account that worked on countless campaigns in the Golden State since the early 1990s, is being accused of stealing millions.

Durkee was arrested by the FBI earlier this month for federal fraud after complaints were alleged that that the popular political operative that has worked on some of the biggest Democratic campaigns in California history was embezzling funds.

The initial arrest came after charges were filed that Durkee misappropriated $670,000 from state Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim). Now Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) is saying that the Burbank accountant had handled her funds as well and she is accusing her of stealing another $250,000.

Durkee also assisted with five campaigns for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is now worried that her $5.2 million in funds shes putting towards a reelection run are ruined.

“I was wiped out too, we don’t know how much,” Feinstein says to Politico.

Speaking to campaign contributors via email, Rep. Davis says that Durkee could be “The Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers.”

“Our treasurer was arrested and is accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, to herself from our campaign, and the campaigns of many, many others,” Davis says in a recent email entitled “Dear Friends.”

Davis is currently seeking her seventh term in office and is now asking for fans to lend a hand while she tries to figure out if her money went missing with upwards of millions more.

Republican Rep. Chris Shays suffered a similar fate after his reelection campaign in the state of Connecticut was emptied out from a former aid, who spent over $250,000 towards limousines and baseball tickets. Speaking to Politico, Shays says that “The challenge for the members is … to have to [go] through different stages: surprise, disappointment, feeling violated and then the recognition that they have to go through, depending on how it was stolen, they’re going to have to [refile] every one of their [Federal Election Commission] reports for three to four years.”

Shays says Davis, Feinstein, Solorio and others will have to “go back over every one and redo them because they’re going to be wrong.”

“It’s an extraordinarily complicated mess and we just don’t know right now what the reality is,” Sen. Feinstein’s campaign consultant says to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are trying like hell to find out.”

Others are also scurrying to see if they have been hit by the wrath of Durkee as well. The FBI reports that the now-infamous accountant had signature authority for more than 400 accounts. She’s been working on campaigns for Feinstein all the way back since 1992.

Feds are currently investigating all the allegations against Durkee, who is out free on bond. They claim that she “admitted she had been misappropriating her clients’ money for years and that forms she filed with the state were false,” but authorities have yet to find out how much exactly is missing and from where.

The official complaint against Durkee so far suggests that she spent nearly $17,000 in campaign contributions to pay her American Express bill, which she used at the Bixby Animal Clinic, Disneyland and Baskin-Robbins.

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