Story with legs

Sep 13, 2011

To no one's surprise, the scandal of Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee is spreading: Politico reported that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was "wiped out" by the fiscal operative. Durkee, you may recall, is a Burbank-based businesswoman who has handled scores of Democratic campaigns.

But after her comments were widely reported, her staff said the senator had misspoke and that they were trying to determine just how much money had been taken, noted the Orange County Register, which first reported on Durkee.


First, from John Brosnahan and Jonathan Allen in Politico: "Durkee was arrested by the FBI on Sept. 2 on allegations of fraud surrounding the diversion of more than $670,000 from the reelection committee for a California state assemblyman, and a growing list of California Democrats, including Feinstein and Reps. Susan Davis and Loretta Sanchez, now appear to victims as well."


 “I was wiped out too, we don’t know how much,” said Feinstein, indicating the losses in campaign funds could run into hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Feinstein, who is up for reelection next year, reported just over $5 million in the bank as of June 30, according to disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission."


“She did my ‘92 campaign, my ‘94 campaign, my 2000 [campaign], my 2006 [campaign] … my gubernatorial campaign,” Feinstein told POLITICO on Monday, describing her long relationship with Durkee. “I trusted her implicitly.”


"Feinstein said she and her campaign staff have been unable to access all their bank records at this point because Durkee alone controlled access to the account, which has made it difficult for them to assess how much money is gone. “It’s very painful,” Feinstein added."


Second, from Brian Joseph in the Orange County Register: "U.S. Rep. Susan Davis is the latest Kinde Durkee client to report missing money from her campaign account. Meanwhile, a political consultant for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the senator is still sorting out how much she may have lost."


"Monday afternoon, the news website Politicoquoted Feinstein as saying her campaign funds had been wiped out. But shortly after, her office took it back. Feinstein political consultant Bill Carrick told the Orange County Register that the senator meant to say that “she was hit, too.”


“We know we were victimized, we just don’t have a number. We don’t know how much,” Carrick said. “It’s very difficult to figure this out.”


Meanwhile, Susan Davis said Durkee may be the "Bernie Madoff" of campaign treasurers, reports Tony Perry of Los Angeles Times.


"The Democratic campaign operative arrested on suspicion of stealing campaign funds from her clients may be "the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers," Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) told contributors in an email."


"Kinde Durkee, a Burbank accountant who handled funds for numerous local, state and congressional candidates, is accused of stealing more than $250,000 from the Davis campaign, the email said."


"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 said in the "Dear Friends" email."


"Davis said her campaign, however, is not without funds because it had a reserve account that Durkee could not access: "This leaves us with funds to fight back and renew our campaign."


Mercury Insurance tycoon George Joseph, no stranger to California's political wars, has dumped $8.1 million into a ballot initiative campaign to change California's auto insurance laws.


From Marc Lifsher at the LA Times: "The initiative, if it makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, would change Proposition 103 to allow insurers to offer customers discounts if they can prove they were continously covered by any licensed insurance company for the last five years. A break in coverage of 90 days for whatever reason would not make the motorist ineligible for the discount. Neither would unemployment for periods of up to 18 months nor active military service."


"Joseph has been seeking such a change in the state's insurance law in the Legislature, the courts and on the ballot for more than a decade. In 2010, Mercury spent $16 million on an unsuccessful initiative, Proposition 17, to offer so-called loyalty discounts."


"Joseph and proponents of the initiative argue that the discount is meant to encourage responsible behavior by insured drivers."

It seems sometimes that we should have a formatted headline that reads, "UC raises tuition." So here's the latest from the Chronicle's Nanette Asimov.

"The University of California would raise student tuition by at least 8 percent - or as much as 16 percent - every year through 2016 under a plan that UC leaders will propose to the regents Thursday in San Francisco."


"Basic tuition could top $22,000 in just four years, not including other mandatory fees, books, room and board, if the regents adopt the idea at their November meeting as part of a multiyear budget plan. Undergraduate tuition is currently $12,192."

"UC officials say the hikes will help cover $2.5 billion in additional funds the university needs to pay its bills and grow enrollment over the next four years."

And from our "It's The Water" file comes the tale of an apartment house that was evacuated because of a bad odor seeping through the walls. No, it wasn't a meth lab.

"Authorities told KRDO-TV that two people working at the Hyde Park Apartments, at 2414 Tremont St., encountered what they said was a noxious smell when they entered one apartment Monday. The workers felt ill, and, fearing that the odors might be coming from a meth drug lab, Colorado Springs firefighters were called to clear part of the apartment complex."


"The station reported that the odor came from a home beer-brewing kit, and residents were allowed back inside less than an hour later."






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