UPDATE: Local Treasurer to Foster, Democratic Club Arrested for Fraud

UPDATE 9:30pm Reporting by Greggory Moore | In response to request for a comment on the Kinde Durkee situation, Mayor Foster has released the following statement to Long Beach Post:

There’s no other way to describe this other than it was a blatant betrayal of trust. At this point, there’s no indication that my account has been impacted. Hundreds of committees were [a]ffected and it’s going to take time to untangle the web of deceit.

In light of the information provided to Long Beach Post by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (see below), which documents findings against Durkee going back a decade, we asked Mayor Foster's office how he came to be involved with Durkee, as well as what sort of checks into Durkee's credentials Foster made before taking her on board as treasurer of "Foster for Treasurer 2014," but we have received no response to these queries.

September 9 | 9:10am Reporting by Greggory Moore | Exactly one year ago, Mayor Bob Foster filed with the Secretary of State his intention to organize "Foster for Treasurer 2014," a committee to handle financial issues related to his run for California state treasurer. The filing listed Kinde Durkee as the committee's treasurer.

As of last Friday, Durkee is behind bars, accused of numerous counts of fraud stemming from her using funds from her Durkee & Associates business accounts "to pay for her daily living expenses, including food, clothes, entertainment, and mortgages. … Ms. DURKEE appears to have signature authority over more than 400 bank accounts, including those for political campaigns," says the criminal complaint filed against her, "and … substantial sums of money have been routinely moved out of client campaign committees into D&A accounts or into other client campaign committee accounts."

The charges pending against Durkee relate specifically to defrauding Assemblymember Jose Solorio and the "Solorio for Assembly 2010" campaign, but the complaint indicates that many other parties may have been similarly defrauded.

Requests by Long Beach Post for comment from Mayor Foster have gone unanswered as of press time.

Included on the list of the more than 100 organizations for which Durkee has filed state campaign committee reports this year is the Long Beach Democratic Club.

"We think this is vey unfortunate and a distraction for our club, because we've had such momentum this year in terms of bringing in new membership and getting a lot more people involved in the Democratic Party going into next year's elections," says Rex Richardson, the club's president.

Richardson says that although Durkee has served as the club's treasurer for over five years, prior to Durkee's arrest the club was already considering switching treasurers because of her unavailability to attend meetings.

"The club ha[d] been asking to see Kinde and have her come on down, but we haven't been able to work that out this year, so there had already been conversation about switching treasurers," Richardson says. "That was already a point of business for our club. … This week, given what happened with the indictment … we're securing our records with the L.A. County Registrar and working with Betty Ann Downing [of California Political Law, Inc.] to switch our account over. … Betty Ann Downing will be our new treasurer."

Richardson reports that, based on the information obtained thus far, it does not appear that club funds were misappropriated. "A couple of meetings ago we got some financial reports, [and] everything was appropriate," he says. "[But currently] we're going through the process to determine … that the funds are appropriate."

Richardson says that because the process of switching treasurers means the club does not have access to its funds, the club will postpone its Democratic Unity Barbecue — originally scheduled for September 18 — for about a month.

The Democratic Unity Barbecue will be the first event on which the club has spent money this year. "We're saving up all our resources for next year, and the elections," says Richardson.

According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Durkee has been involved in a long history of campaign reporting violations. The Commission reports 10 separate findings of irregular activity in campaigns with which Durkee was involved, dating back to 1998 and resulting in the Committee's having assessed Durkee and the pertinent campaigns with nearly $200,000 in fines.

Most recent among these was Durkee's involvement with Jerome Horton's unsuccessful 2006 run for the Board of Equalization and his subsequently-formed committee Citizens to Elect Honest Officials. The Commission's investigation into that case uncovered financial irregularities, including failing to refund $110,923 to campaign contributors and conducting mass mailings that failed to identify Horton as the candidate controlling the committee that paid for them, led to a fine of $13,000 and triggered the FBI investigation that led to Durkee's arrest.

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