Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 28, 2012
Richard Bloom declares win over Betsy Butler in Assembly race

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom declared victory against sitting Assemblywoman Betsy Butler today after the gap between them rose to 1,246 votes in a hotly contested Los Angeles County Assembly race.

"We think this is insurmountable and that I'll be sworn in as an Assembly member on Monday," Bloom said via Twitter.

Neither Butler nor her campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, could be reached for comment. The latest tally shows Bloom with 91,498 votes, compared to Butler's 90,252. The two, both Democrats, are separated by roughly two-thirds of a percentage point.

November 28, 2012
Campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee gets eight years in fraud case

Durkee.JPGU.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller today ordered Kinde Durkee to serve eight years in prison for what has been called California's biggest case of campaign treasurer fraud.

Durkee pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud for taking more than $7 million from campaign accounts she controlled on behalf of Democratic politicians and other clients over a 12-year period. The hundreds of unauthorized transfers she made over that time resulted in six- and seven-figure losses for some clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and outgoing state Assemblyman Jose Solorio, and wiped out the accounts of some smaller committees and nonprofits she controlled.

In addition to the prison sentence, Mueller ordered Durkee to pay more than $10.5 million in restitution. She is turning over a 401(k) account worth about $90,000 and the government is auctioning of her office building later this week to raise more money

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize for my actions," Durkee said in a brief statement to the court. "To those who trusted me and I betrayed, to those who counted on me and I let down, to those who depended on me and I disappointed, I take full and compete responsibility for what I have done. I'm truly sorry for the hurt I caused to my former clients, my former employees, my friends and my family."

November 28, 2012
Minuteman Tim Donnelly testing waters for a 2014 governor bid

A conservative state legislator who is a former member of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project is considering a run for California governor.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, shared his plans to open an exploratory committee for a 2014 run in an interview with, a web video posted to a conservative website.

Donnelly, whose conservative stances and sometimes combative tactics have made him a lightning rod for controversy in the state Legislature, said he decided to consider a run "because there's just, there's nobody out there fighting for us."

"I believe that we as Californians can do heck of a lot better than Jerry Brown or anyone who wants to step into his footsteps, I don't care whether its Kamala Harris or Tony Villaraigosa or Gavin Newsom," he said of the possible Democratic contenders in 2014. "They're all going to push for the same ideas and I think California can do a lot better.'

November 28, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: The regents sending bad message on salaries

Dan Walters says Jerry Brown was right to oppose the UC Regents' salary decision

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 28, 2012
AM Alert: Judgment Day

VIDEO: Dan Walters says he agrees with Jerry Brown's comments on the UC regents.

SLAMMER TIME: Today's the day a federal judge in Sacramento will set the sentence for the Democratic campaign treasurer who pleaded guilty to stealing at least $7 million from her clients. Prosecutors plan to ask that Kinde Durkee get eight years in federal prison, and Durkee's lawyer said last night that she would accept that punishment. Also today, we're likely to learn how much money Durkee will be responsible for repaying to her former clients - a long list that includes U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

LUNCH WITH A WATCHDOG: Political reform, public trust and civic engagement are the subjects of a lunchtime chat today by Ann Ravel, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission. Ravel was appointed to head the state's political watchdog agency in March 2011. She's said she wants the agency to focus less on minor infractions and more on systemic abuses of power, and made headlines recently for going after a shadowy out-of-state group that contributed $11 million to the campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and another for the campaign finance measure aimed at unions, Proposition 32. Details about today's talk are here.

CALTRANS: Under the dome today, a Senate committee will examine the effectiveness and independence of peer-review panels that oversee California's major transportation projects. The hearing was called in response to a Bee investigation of a Caltrans bridge-review panel, and over doubts about the adequacy of oversight for the high-speed rail system.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, who turns 64 today.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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