Kinde Durkee was arrested Sept. 2 and accused by federal authorities of stealing campaign funds and using the money to pay for an array of personal expenses, including mortgage payments, cosmetics and nursing-home care for her mother. Based in Burbank, Calif., the 58-year-old had long managed money for scores of Democratic campaigns.
According to the federal criminal complaint, Ms. Durkee "misappropriated money from her clients' bank accounts and filed false disclosure reports to hide the misappropriations." Ms. Durkee "admitted that she had been misappropriating her clients' money for years," according to court documents.
Her lawyer didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
The complaint against Ms. Durkee focused solely on her alleged misappropriation of more than $600,000 from the campaign accounts of state Assemblyman Jose Solorio's campaign accounts. But prosecutors said the case is set to widen as evidence surfaces that more politicians were alleged victims and millions of dollars in campaign donations may be missing.
While some California political figures expressed shock at the allegations against Ms. Durkee, there are growing indications that there were potentially serious problems in her operation for years.
"There definitely had been red flags that have gone off in the last few years," said Stephen Kaufman, a campaign attorney who worked for clients of Ms. Durkee's. Mr. Kaufman said he was working with a number of clients to find out the status of the bank accounts that Ms. Durkee had controlled.
Ms. Durkee was cited for financial reporting misdeeds 11 times by the state agency that oversees campaign finances, starting in 2002. The fines totaled $190,000.
Compared to other campaign treasurers, the number of citations stood at "an extreme level," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state oversight agency. Ms. Durkee was "the subject of quite a few major violations."
One of the investigations found unusual fluctuations in the campaign accounts of a statewide regulatory board candidate. Investigators noticed similar irregularities in the accounts of other clients of Ms. Durkee, including one official for a federal office, prompting the state agency to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ms. Ravel said.