Ethics agency proposes training to prevent political funds fraud
The head of the state’s ethics agency Friday proposed new measures to prevent fraud in the handling of political funds in response to a federal investigation of Kinde Durkee, who is suspected of embezzling from campaign accounts she controlled.
In addition, Fair Political Practices Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel said politicians affected by the investigation would receive some leeway in meeting financial reporting requirements. Attorneys for politicians told Ravel at a hearing near the Capitol on Friday that financial records needed to make those reports have been withheld by banks, and they expressed concern that other needed documents possessed by Durkee have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.
Durkee was arrested Sept. 2 and is accused of taking $677,181 from the campaign of Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana). Investigators are also reviewing Durkee’s handling of other accounts. She was treasurer for about 400 political committees, including those of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Ravel proposed that all campaign treasurers undergo training in the handling of campaign money and the state laws that govern it.
“Mandating training would … serve as a tool to eliminate fraud,” Ravel told the campaign representatives.
Such a requirement, said Ravel spokeswoman Tara Stock, would probably have to be imposed by the Legislature.
Ravel also said her agency would post on its website the results of investigations into violations by treasurers.
The commission will meet Oct. 13 in Los Angeles to consider additional relief for campaigns, including a request that it temporarily remove the limits on donations for candidates whose money has been frozen as part of the Durkee investigation.
Karen Getman, an attorney for Solorio, said all of the lawmaker’s campaign finance records held by Durkee’s firm have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.
Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S attorney’s office in Sacramento, said federal policy prevents her from commenting on whether a federal grand jury has become involved in the case.
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