Update below: L.A. Ethics Commission staff recommends four-month extension on debt window for Durkee clients.
Politicians are still trying to dig out from the Kinde Durkee campaign finance scandal,
two three months after the Democratic treasurer was arrested and accused of a massive fraud scheme.
As they try to sort out the mess, some have sought leniency from the state Fair Political Practices Commission. Now, Councilman Paul Krekorian is asking for similar consideration from the L.A. City Ethics Commission.
The Durkee scandal hit state and federal officials the hardest. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the worst off, having lost nearly $5 million.
But Krekorian's predicament shows that it has had effects at the local level as well. Here's what happened to him.
Krekorian overwhelmingly won re-election in March, but was left with
$74,500 in debt. Since then, he's been raising money to pay it off.
Those efforts suffered a major setback when Durkee was arrested in September, and Krekorian discovered that he was out about $50,000, according to his office.
The bigger problem is that city campaign finance rules give candidates just
nine months to pay down their debts after an election.
The election was in March, which means the window is closing this week. After that, Krekorian will no longer be able to raise money to pay off debt. (That seems to mean that Krekorian will either have to eat the loss personally, or his creditors will. The biggest creditor is campaign consultant Eric Hagopian, who was owed about $67,000, as of June 30.)
Faced with that dilemma, Krekorian has asked the L.A. City Ethics Commission to intercede. Last week, he fled a motion urging the commission to extend the nine-month deadline. The Commission is expected to look at the issue in the near future.
Other L.A. elected officials employed Durkee, but Krekorian seems to the one who is most affected by the nine-month window. Councilman Tony Cardenas, another Durkee client, had about $21,000 in debt from his council re-election campaign. Councilman Tom LaBonge had no debt, according to his most recent report. Neither councilman has responded to inquiries about Krekorian's request.
Meanwhile today, Durkee's preliminary hearing was delayed to allow the FBI more time to build its case. She had been expected to go before a federal judge in Sacramento on Friday. That date was pushed back to Jan. 26.
Wednesday update: The Ethics Commission staff has recommended a four-month extension for Durkee clients. If the commission approves that extension at next Tuesday's meeting, the new deadline to retire campaign debt will be April 8, 2012.
First posted 4:33 p.m. Tuesday.