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City Council candidate fined record $77,000 for discounted downtown office space.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez talks about his campaign.Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez's appeal of a $77,000 campaign violation penalty has been rejected by the city's Small Donor Elections program.

The fine stems from a letter to the Rene for Portland campaign sent by the Small Donor Elections program on Sept. 20, saying the campaign was given a 96% discount on a downtown office space and did not report it.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, the elections program sent a letter to Gonzalez rejecting his appeal after he argued the discounted office space did not violate the city's campaign finance rules.

In the initial letter to the campaign, Small Donor Elections Director Susan Mottet stated that the more than 3,000-square-foot office space, which is owned by Portland developer Jordan Schnitzer, is advertised online at nearly $7,000 per month, but the campaign is paying $250 plus utilities. Records with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office show Schnitzer contributed $250 in May to Gonzalez's campaign.

The letter went on to state "though campaigns may accept discounts that are available to the general public, accepting a discount that is not constitutes contribution of the difference between the fair market value and the amount paid."

In a statement to KOIN 6 News on Sept. 21, a spokesperson for Gonzalez's campaign defended the lease, saying the campaign "strongly" disagrees about the low price of the rent "given the dismal state of downtown."

Gonzalez can appeal the fine to the Multnomah County Circuit Court.

A previous story can be found here.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.

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