Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Office for Trump Not Official but Told to Shut; Owner Provided Riverside Space Free; Campaign Says It Was a Perception Problem

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Office for Trump Not Official but Told to Shut; Owner Provided Riverside Space Free; Campaign Says It Was a Perception Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: Tia Mitchell

The Donald Trump campaign office in Riverside that shut down earlier this month wasn't an official Trump office after all. Yet his people demanded it be closed, or at least strongly suggested it.

There have been different reasons given about why the office closed. When the office shut its doors earlier this month, a sign went up saying it was moving to a different address. The Trump campaign does plan to open an official Jacksonville office, but no date has been announced.

Patricia Butts, 80, owns the building where the "Donald Trump Call Center" was located until she got a surprise phone call saying it had to close. She said she was told it had to do with potential campaign-finance law violations because she donated the space.

"I said I'm not gaining any rent, I donated it for free," Butts recalled from her conversation with a woman who identified herself as a Trump campaign manager. "She said that's the problem, you should have been getting rent."

Susie Wiles, the Jacksonville-based co-chairwoman of Trump's Florida campaign, denies speaking to Butts or having any direct involvement in the office closure.

The reason it happened wasn't because the donation exceeded campaign-finance limits, she said. Trump's campaign asked to shut the office because it had no control or oversight of the space but still could be held liable if something went wrong.

"Where volunteers congregate that's not an official office, and that is what happened here," Wiles said.

The office near the intersection of Park and King streets opened in January. A friend had approached Butts about using the vacant space in her building, and she agreed. …

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