Aug. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Durkee Case Jolts Elections

“The Committee — and its donors — suffered a severe injustice at the hands of Durkee. In the past, the FEC has shown a commendable willingness to rectify wrongful acts, where the law allows it to do so. The law clearly allows it to do so here,” attorney Marc Elias wrote after citing analogous examples.

The FEC has not announced its decision.

A similar effort was launched on behalf of Durkee’s state-level victims.

Attorney Stephen Kaufman asked California’s Fair Political Practices Commission to consider a number of issues created by Durkee’s embezzlement, including whether those affected could resolicit donors. The commission held a number of public meetings and a memo from its general counsel to committee members cited a legal path to allow victims to do so, but the commission has not yet made a decision.

“One the one hand, it’s not at all fair to the candidate because the money is gone,” Caplin & Drysdale attorney Joseph Birkenstock said. “On the other hand ... if the whole premise of contribution limits is you are overly beholden to a donor who gives more than the limits allow, why would that premise change because the person that candidate counted on turned out not to be trustworthy?”

As part of her plea agreement, Durkee agreed that the U.S. Marshals Service could sell her office building in Burbank, Calif., which was valued at more than $600,000 in 2005. She also agreed to liquidate a 401(k) account and promised not to discharge her obligation to pay restitution to her victims during any bankruptcy proceeding.

Even though the maximum penalty for each count of mail fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Durkee’s cooperation means she will likely face far lesser penalties, which will be announced at a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 20.

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