What does the Kinde Durkee bust mean for the Democratic Party of Orange County? – (with update from TPM)


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“I drink your milkshake, Democrats.
SLLLLLLURRRRRRRRP … I drink it up!”

The Democratic Party of Orange County is running around this weekend with its hair on fire.  No, NOT because some knuckledragging jackanapes hung a noose outside the OC Labor Federation office  – that’s just a day in the life for us fighters for justice.

And no, not because they’re busy trying to calibrate the precise degree of disapproval appropriate for Santa Ana’s hotheaded Mayor Pro-Tem’s calling some greedy-ass Jewish developer Hitler.

The reason for the hair being on fire is the FBI’s arrest of mega-treasurer Kinde Durkee – teeasurer for everyone from Dianne Feinstein to Jose Solorio – on suspicion of “mail fraud.”

Well … what’s “mail fraud” anyway?  Turns out that’s a very vague phrase used only in the US, covering ANY kind of fraud that at some point uses the mail system – other countries would just say “fraud.”  We know that Kinde’s firm was not involved in sending out mailers to the public, so she didn’t commit THAT kind of mail fraud.  Seeing as how we’ve already got politicians clamoring about all the money she’s ripped off from them, it looks like she committed some kind of EMBEZZLEMENT.  Which at some point involved the mail.  (ALLEGEDLY of course.)

Who are these politician victims?  Well, yesterday we heard genial half-Democrat State Senator Lou Correa lamenting that his loss of “hundreds of thousands” in campaign money to Kinde’s scams was “like a punch straight to the gut.”  Wait a second – what’s Lou running for anyway that he needs hundreds of thousands in campaign money for?  Isn’t he safely in his Senate seat for three more years – until December of 2014 – and then termed out?  If he plans on continuing as a career politician after that point, I’ve no doubt the Chamber of Commerce and AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) will be happy to pony up, given his corporatist voting record.

Today Jose Solorio joins the wailing chorus with a Spike Lee-inflected statement: “I’ve been robbed!”  Again, I could have sworn Jose is termed out, and was thinking of next running to take Lou’s place in 2014 – probably why his voting record has been looking more and more like Lou’s.  And again, I think thankful insurance companies and the prison guard union will have no problem refilling Jose’s coffers by that point;  although as I warned him in Harry Truman’s words, “When faced with the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will choose the real Republican every time.”

And Dianne Feinstein?  I hope she lost millions, I’d rather Kinde have it than her.  Then maybe a real Democrat would have a chance of defeating our Strom Thurmond some time this century.

Some DPOC players moan to me that this “hurts the image of the Party.”  Come on – anybody with a brain knows it wasn’t our fault, we were the ones who got ripped off.  All those slack-jawed cretins commenting “typical Democrat crook” on the Register’s website were not exactly going to vote for us anyway.  It’s true that we do sometimes get spoiled in this county when it seems like only Republicans can be crooks and Democrats are born genetically incapable of corruption, but of course that’s not true.  Apparently.

Also we should be glad this happened this year – an off year.  At this point in 2012, only the most pinched-faced misanthrope will still be muttering, “Ugh.  Democrats.  Kinde Durkee.”  This is the best time to get this problem out of the way and recover from it, and find someone trustworthy to work with instead.  I’m glad to hear that of the folks running to take Jose’s place, Michele Martinez is using the worthy David L. Gould,and Julio Perez is using The Kaufman Legal Group. Me, I always recommend my pal from Derail-the-Sale Lysa Pisarski Ray – even though she’s a Republican she’s honest and competent!

Are there any more answers to the question in my title that I’m missing?

Tuesday afternoon update from Talking Points Memo:

FBI: Treasurer Used Campaign Funds Like Personal Piggy Bank.

We just got a hold of the FBI complaint against Kinde Durkee, the California accountant who has been a campaign treasurer for hundreds of Democratic campaigns. The feds charged her late last week with mail fraud for allegedly taking campaign funds from accounts she controlled and using them to pay personal and business expenses as well as cover for shortfalls in the accounts of other campaigns.

The victim in this case is alleged to be the campaign of state Assemblyman Joe Solorio, from whose accounts Durkee allegedly misappropriated more than $600,000, some of which ended up in the campaign accounts of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). (There is no suggestion in the complaint that the the Sanchez campaign knew of these deposits.)

But the key takeaway from the FBI complaint may be that Durkee admitted, according to the feds, that she has been “misappropriating her clients’ money for years.” So who knows how many other victims there and the amounts of money involved.

Here’s a copy of the complaint.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Durkee has come under scrutiny for shady practices. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a bogus “California for Obama” campaign that she was running back in 2007:

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton told the Chronicle at the time the effort was entirely unauthorized, and the campaign issued a harsh cease-and-desist-warning to Emmett Cash III, the former movie mogul who worked with Durkee on the San Bernardino-based campaign…


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.