A suspected embezzlement scheme that has ensnared hundreds of campaign accounts of Democrats has sent candidates scrambling for new cash as they prepare for an election season that could reshape California's political landscape.How long until somebody on the left accuses her of being a secret Tea Party member?
Just when they need to start hiring staff and commissioning polls, many candidates have no idea how much might have been taken from them or how much they have left, and they cannot find out: As many as 400 political accounts have been frozen by the banks holding the funds since the Sept. 2 arrest of treasurer Kinde Durkee.
She controlled funds for numerous politicians, predominantly Democrats, and it could be years before litigation sorts out who is owed what.
"It couldn't happen at a worse time," said Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach), who is expected to face Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) in a tough June primary in a newly drawn district. "I hope for my sake, and for all of my colleagues, that we're able to recoup the funds."
More than a dozen state and federal candidates in next year's election have had funds frozen. Scores of others who have not announced their plans or will not be on the 2012 ballot also employed Durkee, which complicates their efforts to promote themselves now by, for example, spending money to raise funds for future races.
Party officials may not be able to provide their usual help. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party lost $220,000 to Durkee and has $85,000 more stuck in related legal limbo. Durkee also handled the finances of numerous smaller Democratic clubs that provide campaign foot soldiers and are now scrambling to meet payroll.
Some of these candidates are now asking the election authorities to allow people who have already maxed out their contributions to be able to give again since this money has turned up missing. They'll probably get it too, since in California just about everything is run by Democrats.
But, if you were a contributor who had given a bunch to Dems and then found out one of their own stole it, would you want to contributed again? We know the candidates will steal your money once they're in office, but this is a whole new level of theft.