Somewhat lost in the flurry of legislative activity last week was the breaking of what may turn into a major political scandal: the FBI's arrest of Kinde Durkee, a prominent Democratic Party campaign treasurer, on charges of embezzling funds from a number of California politicians. Now that we don't have tax plans or unionized nannies to talk about, more details in the Durkee case are starting to emerge. And they're not good for the state's Democratic Party.
reports that $200,000 is missing. Hence, the practical problem: Durkee's crimes could create a serious obstacle for Democrats' hopes of taking two-thirds majorities in the Legislature, if their candidates are unable to properly contest elections. The second problem is one of appearances: what does it say about the judgment of California's Democrats, if they placed so much trust in someone with an extensive history of ethics complaints? In an email yesterday, Davis referred to Durkee as "the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers"; yet the red flags were abundant before this news broke. Back in 2007, Durkee's Burbank firm was linked to a fraudulent "Californians for Obama" campaign that fleeced hundreds of donors, and she's been the target of several warnings and four enforcement actions by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. Awful judgment on this scale is the sort of thing that can derail a campaign.