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.
A draft opinion that the Federal Election Commission issued Friday indicates that it probably will reject a request from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign to allow her to replace millions of dollars in contributions embezzled by her treasurer with new donations from the original donors. The FEC is likely to take a final vote on her request Thursday, but the issuance of just one draft advisory opinion is a signal of some consensus among commissioners. Feinstein’s campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee, pleaded guilty last week to defrauding numerous California politicians of at least $7 million. Feinstein was the hardest hit, losing an estimated $4.5 million.
Victims of the California campaign treasurer who embezzled more than $7 million from dozens, if not hundreds, of clients’ accounts may have to hire private attorneys and scramble to replenish re-election funds even as the government’s case ended in a guilty plea Friday. Since Kinde S. Durkee, 59, was arrested in September, everyone touched by the case has been asking one question: Where did the money go? Now, those facing imminent California primaries and November’s general election are forced to consider another: What if they never find it? “Everyone is trying to figure that out, and nobody seems to know,” attorney Atticus Wegman said of the money trail. “Even if, for the past five or 10 years, she was just taking money out and spending it here or there, it’s hard to say how that would take up all the money that she pulled out.”