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Loretta Sanchez says alleged fraud nearly erased campaign fund

September 11, 2011 |  8:49 am


Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) said her election fund was nearly cleaned out, making her campaign the latest alleged victim of a campaign treasurer accused of fraud.

And the Los Angeles County Democratic Party reported that more than $200,000 had been taken from its fund.

Kinde Durkee was arrested on a federal fraud charge this month. She is accused of taking thousands of dollars from the campaigns of various elected officials.

Although many Democratic insiders expressed shock at Durkee's arrest, it wasn't the first sign of trouble. When the FBI started investigating Durkee in January, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission were already looking at her use of campaign funds.

In the last decade Durkee had racked up $185,860 in fines from the Fair Political Practices Commission in eight cases, a record that commission head Ann Ravel said pointed to "quite serious" issues.

There are only a few other people in California who, like Durkee, serve as treasurer for a large number of campaigns. None has an extensive history of violations, Ravel said.

"This is an anomaly — I don't believe that we have seen a case of this magnitude," she said.

One longtime Durkee client, state Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), fired Durkee in 2009 and notified the district attorney's office after an audit of her campaign fund by the state Franchise Tax Board turned up "irregular activities." Kehoe's office declined to elaborate to The Times about her concerns.


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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: U.S. Rep Loretta Sanchez says her campaign fund was nearly wiped out in an alleged fraud. Credit: Los Angeles Times