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Former City Council candidate Stephen Whitburn and an architect on the downtown library project have agreed to pay fines as part of settlements with the San Diego Ethics Commission.

Whitburn agreed to pay a $200 fine after his campaign included five city employees in e-mails soliciting campaign contributions.

The settlement indicates that Whitburn believed the e-mails were permitted because they were part of mass solicitations. But the settlement says the exemption doesn’t apply when a candidate knows city employees are receiving the solicitation. The employees were on a list compiled by Whitburn’s campaign and had official city e-mail addresses ending in sandiego.gov.

Whitburn agreed not to accept any money from the five city employees. His violation is similar to those of Councilman Carl DeMaio and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who both paid larger $1,500 fines because their e-mails went to more city employees.

Additionally, architect Art Castro agreed to pay a $3,000 fine for failing to disclose income from firms doing development and construction work in the downtown area.

Castro’s firm has received more than $2.6 million from the Centre City Development Corp. for design work on the proposed downtown library. Such consultants must report income they receive from companies doing certain type of work, including development and construction, in CCDC’s project area.

Castro didn’t disclose several clients of his architectural firm and his property management firm that met the criteria. Castro’s share from each client totaled at least $10,000.

The Ethics Commission also waived a fine for a college student, Michael Mueller, who served on the College Community Project Area Committee and who failed to report that he worked for a company doing development work in the project area.

Commissioners took the unprecedented step of waiving the $2,000 fine because Mueller couldn’t afford to pay it. He instead agreed to appear at training sessions for other committee members.

RANI GUPTA

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