Professional Democratic treasurer Kinde Durkee of Burbank was arrested last week on federal charges that she allegedly stole more than $677,000 from Orange County Assemblyman Jose Solorio; used her clients' campaign funds as giant piggybanks for trips to Disneyland, ice cream at Baskin Robbins, vet bills, and other personal expenses; and covered a check to San Diego congresswoman Susan Davis's campaign fund with Solorio's money.
With so many clients, past and present, including Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, Congressman Bob Filner, and Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Durkee case looks to present an unprecedented glimpse into the sometimes murky world of campaign finance, and how it sometimes gets, well, political.
One interesting aside is provided by the http://www.sandiegoreader.com/documents/2011/sep/07/durkee-stipluation/">stipulation that Durkee reached with San Diego's ethics commission in April of this year.
Her client was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569, Committee on Political Education, which the ethics commission found had failed to reveal its contributions to Howard Wayne's 2010 city council campaign:
"On October 6, 2010, Respondent IBEW made an independent expenditure in the amount of $5,267.20 to support Howard Wayne, a candidate for City Council District 6 in the November 2, 2010, general election," according to the stipulation.
"On October 11, 2010, Respondent IBEW made a second independent expenditure in the amount of $349.48 to support Howard Wayne for City Council.
"Respondents failed to file the requisite Form 465 with the City Clerk on or before October 21, 2010, disclosing the independent expenditures it made to support a City candidate between October 1 and October 16, 2010."
"Although the Form 465 was due on October 21, 2010, Respondents have not yet filed it."
Donors often do all they can to confuse the public about how much and when they contribute money to campaigns, on the theory that the revelation of large sums given by special interests will alienate at least a percentage of voters--which sometimes adds up to the crucial margin of victory--or tip off opponents.
Fines for late filings usually turn out to be minimal, in Durkee's and the union's case $3,000, providing yet another incentive for big money interests to skirt or ignore reporting deadlines unless they get caught.