| OLYMPIA, Wash., Sept 25
OLYMPIA, Wash., Sept 25 The former head of a
Democratic Party fundraising committee in Washington state has
been charged with embezzling up to $300,000 in campaign
contributions to feed a gambling habit, prosecutors said on
Michael King, 32, concealed the theft from the Senate
Democratic Campaign Committee in part by reporting it as a
series of phony reimbursements for political polling, according
to charges filed by the King County prosecutor's office.
"It's a very serious theft and he's facing a long prison
sentence," King County Prosecutor's spokesman Dan Donohoe said,
adding that King could face up to 29 months in prison for thefts
that occurred between March 2011 and January 2013.
An attorney for King, Lyle Tenpenny, could not immediately
be reached for comment.
The case raises questions about whether state Senate
Democrats were fighting at a self-inflicted disadvantage in last
year's election campaign, after which they held a 26-23 majority
but lost control of the chamber when two conservative Democrats
opted to caucus with Republicans to form a majority coalition.
State Senate Democrats netted a loss of one seat in 2012, a
year in which the party handily won the governor's race and
President Barack Obama won the state by 15 points over
Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Among the races the party
lost in 2012 was one where conservative Republican state Senator
Don Benton retained his seat by a 74-vote margin.
King has been charged with four counts of first-degree theft
and four counts of second-degree theft. He faces a maximum
sentence of 22 to 29 months in prison and up to $20,000 in
fines, Donohoe said.
King has made a full confession to police, the charging
documents said. He is scheduled to be arraigned at the King
County Courthouse in Seattle on Oct. 7. He is not currently in
custody, Donohoe said, as he is not seen as a flight risk.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)