Touchstone Golf — an Austin, Texas-based golf course management company that according to Republican party and Lincoln Club disclosure filings has been delivering some big San Diego political money of late —has denied that it is the real source of the funds.
According to records posted online by the city clerk's office, Touchstone has given a total of $17,000 to the GOP Lincoln Club since August 8. That group waged a take-no-prisoners campaign of hit pieces against Republican assemblyman–turned–Democratic mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, and his employer, Qualcomm.
In addition, this past Friday, December 27, the Republican Party of San Diego — expected to do much of the financial lifting for GOP city councilman Kevin Faulconer’s campaign against Democrat David Alvarez — filed a statement with the California secretary of state’s office saying Touchstone had given it $20,000.
Touchstone chief Steve Harker, reached at his San Francisco Bay Area office by phone on December 30, said he didn’t know that Touchstone had been listed as making the contributions. He went on to say that his firm was not the source of the money.
After further investigation, Harker called back to say that the funds originated from an entity by the name of Stuck in the Rough, LLC, which, he explained, owns the Escondido Country Club and has had a management deal with Touchstone.
“They asked us to send out the checks from their account, and we did,” Harker said, referring to a checking account he said his firm maintained for the now-defunct golf course.
Harker said that Touchstone would take steps to correct the reports filed with the California secretary of state and San Diego city clerk’s offices. It is illegal to report false donor names on campaign disclosure filings.
Who exactly is Stuck in the Rough? The Beverly Hills-based limited liability company has been trying to build 450 houses on the golf course site against the opposition of a citizens group.
Reached by phone, Michel Ohana, who identified himself as an employee of Stuck in the Rough, confirmed Harker’s account. Other information about the firm and its ownership was not immediately available.