Former Mayor and local real estate broker Christina Rinderle said Saturday that she decided to donate almost $20,000 in commission from the sale of City Manager Ron LeBlanc’s private home without him knowing.
The Durango Board of Ethics posted a notice of hearing that, in part, questions LeBlanc’s decision to list his home for sale with Rinderle, a former city councilor and co-owner at Durango Land and Homes.
Sitting City Councilor Chris Bettin is the managing broker and co-owner of Durango Land and Homes.
The city’s code of ethics forbids a supervisor from engaging “in a substantial financial transaction for the public official’s private business purposes with a person the city official inspects or supervises in the course of the city official’s official duties.”
The Board of Ethics cleared Bettin of wrongdoing, saying he had “no knowledge of” and “did not profit from” the real estate transaction.
Rinderle listed LeBlanc’s home, located in the 300 block of Hillcrest Drive, with Durango Land and Homes on June 24, records show. The property “went under contract,” she said, a day later. Land Title Guarantee Company, a local land title company, “was aware of the intent to make the commission donations to charity,” Rinderle wrote in an email.
She’s “not sure of the exact timing” but noted in her message to a Herald reporter that “it was well before your initial reporting call to me,” referencing a July 24 inquiry from the reporter about the real estate agreement.
“It is something I called the title company about,” she wrote.
The house sold Aug. 13 for $649,000, according to county records.
Rinderle said Saturday the commissioned proceeds were given to local charities the day of the sale. Durango Land and Homes donated $5,000 to Manna soup kitchen, $5,000 to The Women’s Resource Center, and the rest, almost $10,000, to Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County, Durango, she said.
“What I was trying to do was avoid anyone saying, ‘Oh, we made money on the transaction of a city manager’s house,’” she said. “I didn’t want anyone to even have the perception that I was profiting off of that.”
It wasn’t until after she made the agreement that she told LeBlanc that she decided to donate her commission, Rinderle said. LeBlanc did not return a call and voice message seeking comment.
“It (donating commissioned proceeds to charity) was 100% my decision, Ron didn’t know,” she said. “I just said (to him), ‘I made a decision to donate to charity, we’ve donated a lot.’”