Calif congresswoman: Campaign robbed of $250,000

SAN DIEGO - September 12, 2011

U.S. Rep. Susan Davis was not mentioned as a victim in the federal complaint against Kinde Durkee, but the San Diego Democrat told supporters her campaign was one of many that were victimized.

"As this scandal emerges, she may well become known as the Bernie Madoff of campaign finance treasurers," Davis wrote, referring to the Wall Street swindler in an email with the heading, "We've Been Robbed!"

Durkee's attorney, Daniel Nixon, didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Durkee, whose clients included U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and dozens of other California politicians, had authority over more than 400 bank accounts, including political campaigns, according to the federal complaint filed earlier this month.

The complaint said investigators found substantial sums were routinely placed into her company accounts or channeled to other campaigns, apparently when suspicions were raised about missing money.

Davis told supporters that reports to the Federal Election Commission accurately reflected her contributions and spending, but Durkee falsely reported account balances to the campaign. Davis tallied her losses at more than $250,000.

Davis, a six-term congresswoman in a heavily Democratic district, sought to reassure supporters in her email dated Saturday and released Monday.

"If there is any positive news in all of this, it is that although many of her clients lost virtually everything, we had an account in reserve for our operational expenses that she did not have access to (for our ease, not because we suspected anything)," the congresswoman wrote.

The only elected official named as a victim in the federal complaint was state Assemblyman Jose Solorio. Prosecutors allege that Durkee siphoned off nearly $700,000 from Solorio's campaign to pay for an array of debts, from a Disneyland restaurant tab to shopping at Costco.

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento, said more charges are likely.

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