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Portland candidate fined $77,000 for campaign office transaction

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In Science and Space: For accepting and not disclosing a sizable discount on campaign office rent, a candidate for the Portland City Council was fined $77,000.

According to campaign finance filings, real estate tycoon and philanthropist Schnitzer gave the candidate the maximum $250 donation that is permitted by law.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Rene Gonzalez’s campaign has been leasing more than 3,000 square feet in a Jordan Schnitzer-owned office building in Portland since May for a pitiful $250 a month.

In a letter to Gonzalez on Tuesday, Susan Mottet, the director of Portland’s Small Donor Elections programme, stated that the office’s fair market value, which includes two parking spaces, is around $6,900 per month. That equates to a 96% unreported discount, which Mottet alleged to be an unauthorised in-kind gift under the city’s public campaign finance programme.

According to campaign finance records, Gonzalez has so far gotten $370,000 in city funding through the programme and currently has around $175,000 in his campaign coffers.

Gonzalez’s campaign manager Shah Smith said in a statement that the modest rent was not an in-kind donation but rather what a person wanting to rent office space would anticipate paying in the downtown area, which has had difficulty recovering from the pandemic. We considered (city) regulations before signing the lease, and we vehemently disagree that the rent is too low given the dire condition of downtown, the tenant wrote. For tenants to even contemplate renting, he claimed that landlords have to provide sizable amounts of free rent months, secured parking, and tenant improvements.

Smith added that the campaign intends to make an appeal.

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