A former campaign consultant who listed several Santa Barbara County political groups as clients was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison for mail fraud.
Kinde Durkee pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court earlier this year to charges of mail fraud, skimming more than $7 million from campaign accounts over a decade. Prominent political clients that were defrauded by Durkee included Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Assemblyman Jose Solorio.
Local clients of her firm, Durkee and Associates, included the Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee, the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.
They were among the groups contacted by FBI investigators last year about Durkee, but reported no financial losses.
Durkee maintains that she took the money to keep her firm afloat and pay for personal expenses.
A judge ruled Wednesday that she must pay $10.5 million in restitution on top of her prison sentence.
Every client of Durkee’s was cut off from their funds during the investigation, and DCC Chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall said that the group has been cut off from about $6,000 of its money.
“We’re just happy that it’s all behind us,” he told Noozhawk on Wednesday. “We have filed paperwork with the court that will allow us to retrieve some of the frozen funds at our former bank. I hope that when Durkee gets out she finds some way to help mitigate the damage she caused to progressive causes throughout the state.”