Capital Notes — From KQED’s John Myers

October 31, 2011, 4:30 pm • Posted by John Myers
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KQED/John Myers
A legal analysis by the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency says that donations never deposited into candidate accounts by accused treasurer Kinde Durkee can be solicited a second time.

But now, the multi-million dollar question in the allegations of embezzlement against Durkee: which donations were actually deposited… and thus are now final… and which were not?

With the criminal investigation into Durkee’s activities still ongoing, the many Democratic candidates and groups that used her accounting services are wondering how to make up the dollars that are now missing from their political bank accounts.

This afternoon, the state Fair Political Practices Commission released an analysis from its staff attorney that says some donors may, in fact, be able to write another check — even if they assumed they had maxed out under campaign contribution limits.

Those limits do “not apply where a contribution for an upcoming election was delivered to Durkee, but the contribution was never deposited,” writes FPPC attorney Zackery Morazzini in his 11 page report (PDF) in advance of the commission’s November meeting.

This is exactly the point several Democrats made at the commission’s most recent two meetings to assess the potential impact from the Durkee scandal. Law enforcement records indicate that the long-time professional treasurer had access or control to some 400 campaign accounts, ranging from local Democratic clubs to the campaign cash for high-profile Dems like U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Writes Morazzini:

The wide spread pattern and practice of fraud alleged to have been employed by Durkee indicates that, in instances where she never deposited the contributions into her clients’ accounts, she was committing fraud at the outset and thus did not “receive” these contributions as an agent for the candidate or committee… Absent acceptance or receipt by the candidate, committee, or proper agent, the transaction has not been completed and there has been no contribution that would be subject to the contribution limit.”

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