The Fair Political Practices Commission will meet Friday to discuss options for helping political committees affected by the arrest of Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee.
But political candidates aren't the only ones facing uncertainty in light of the federal mail fraud charges filed against the longtime campaign treasurer. Durkee, who has been accused of stealing large sums of money from political committees she managed, also handled the books in recent years for dozens of nonprofit organizations.
The nonprofits leaving their cash in Durkee's hands tackled a variety of causes, including promoting online poker and combating diabetes among Latinos. But many of the organizations listing the Burbank-based treasurer or her office address in their tax filings in recent years have something in common: ties to the political world.
Durkee's nonprofit clients have included an association for adult entertainment clubs, a national electoral reform organization and foundations run by elected officials and lawmakers' spouses, according to tax filings. She's also been listed as treasurer for several groups created to fund voter registration projects in Southern California, including the American Voter Education Fund and the Orange County Voter Information Project.
Many accounts tied to Durkee's firm have now been frozen, leaving affected groups in limbo and looking for answers. The bank that held hundreds of accounts controlled by Durkee has asked a Los Angeles judge to step in, the Los Angeles Times has reported, telling the court it cannot determine what money belongs to what committee or organization in the wake of transfers that Durkee allegedly made.
"Right now we can't access anything, and we don't know what we had and what we don't have," Glenn Smith, president of the California Association of Club Executives, told The Bee on Tuesday.
Politically connected nonprofits that have listed Durkee or her firm's address on tax forms in recent years include:
Two organizations formed to support the National Popular Vote movement, which is pushing states to agree to award their electoral college votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. One of the groups reported having more than $600,000 in the bank in its 2009 tax filings.
Southern California LEAD Foundation, which reported raising roughly $26,000 in 2009 for its stated mission to "improve the quality of life for Hispanic youth who reside in the communities of South East Los Angeles County." The director of the group is Leticia Mendoza, wife of Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia.
California Educational Solutions Corporation, whose CEO Yvonne Horton is married to Board of Equalization Chairman Jerome Horton. The nonprofit, formed "to help disadvantaged students attend college and gain access to educational tools and resources to advance their educational experience," has been boosted by $40,000 in contributions solicited by Jerome Horton, according to reports filed with the FPPC.
The Second District Education and Policy Foundation, formed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor and Democratic Rep. Yvonne Burke. The committee reported making contributions to Los Angeles food banks and education organizations as recently as 2009. Former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, who served as an aide to Burke during her years as supervisor, was listed as secretary of the nonprofit, though the office of the now Los Angeles councilman says he is no longer involved.
Edmund D. Edelman Foundation for Music and the Performing Arts, a nonprofit formed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Edmund Edelman to support the arts. Its 2010 contributions included $4,000 to the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art and $16,500 to the University of California Regents to fund efforts to promote artistic culture.
Michael Antonovich Charitable Foundation, a group started by the former GOP assemblyman and state GOP chairman, now a Los Angeles County supervisor, to "encourage adoptions/foster care."
It is unclear whether any money from the nonprofits was involved in the alleged embezzlement scheme. Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio, Rep. Loretta Sanchez and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein all claim that their accounts suffered significantly in the hands of Durkee.