The Federal Election Commission ruled Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose campaign lost millions to embezzlement by treasurer Kinde Durkee, can try to go back and collect new contributions from donors whose checks were never cashed. But the FEC ruled that Feinstein, D-Calif., can’t take new contributions from donors whose money Durkee pocketed. Overall, Feinstein campaign consultant Bill Carrick said Wednesday, that leaves the senator with almost no recourse. First California Bank hasn’t released records from the Durkee-managed accounts, he said, so the campaign has no “capacity to figure out right now what money was deposited and what money wasn’t deposited.” Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood; Loretta Sanchez, D-Anaheim, and Susan Davis, D-San Diego — also Durkee clients — are in the same boat, Carrick said.
“It’s disappointing, definitely,” Carrick said. “People intended their money to be used for the Feinstein Senate campaign; they did not intend for it to be embezzled by Kinde Durkee.” Durkee pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud, but it’s unlikely she’ll be able to make full restitution to Feinstein and the other pols she bilked. Feinstein lent her campaign $5 million in the embezzlement’s wake, and although she has 23 challengers in next month’s primary election, none have held a candle to her in the polls — though the scandal has provided them some rhetorical fodder.
“Once again, the FEC has refused to allow Dianne Feinstein a free pass. Her refusal to accept any responsibility for the gross mismanagement that resulted in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in campaign donations shows an appalling lack of accountability to the people of California,” Elizabeth Emken of Danville, the GOP’s endorsed candidate, said Wednesday in a statement Wednesday. “It’s yet another reason why the average voter feels that Washington elites like Dianne Feinstein are out of touch, and a recent poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans would vote to completely replace Congress. Incumbents like Senator Feinstein are being put on notice in 2012 — the voters are saying it’s time to go.”