The landlord who was fined $187,390 for “bad faith litigation conduct” in housing court last week donated to Mayor Betsy Hodges’ campaign, and her campaign manager said Monday that she will return the money.
Steve Frenz, one of the biggest landlords in Minneapolis, gave $250 to Hodges’ campaign in late November, according to her campaign finance report.
“This was an oversight, and the campaign should have never accepted the contribution from Frenz,” said Jorge Contreras, Hodges’ campaign manager, after the Star Tribune asked about the donation. “He is not the type of person we want doing business in Minneapolis. The committee is returning the contribution.”
Frenz is at odds with the city on multiple fronts. The Minneapolis Regulatory Services Department is trying to strip him of rental licenses on his 62 properties. The city contends that Frenz falsely informed the city five years ago that he bought the properties from Spiros Zorbalas, whom the city had ordered to get out of the rental business.
Frenz also has been cited for lead paint violations at two apartment buildings and is the target of a lawsuit seeking status as a class action case.
An anonymous tipster told the Star Tribune that Frenz also tried to donate to Council Member Lisa Goodman’s campaign, but she sent the money back.
The donation does not appear in Goodman’s campaign finance reports, but she confirmed Monday that she had received a check for $250 from Frenz and sent it back with a note explaining that she couldn’t take it, even though Frenz has done some good things for the city in the past.
“I didn’t deposit the check,” Goodman said. “I am happy to take money from any developer and vote against them. The reason I returned this check is that given the allegations against him and the ways he’s treated his tenants, it felt like blood money to me.”