Escondido Country Club Homeowners Organization protest sign
With election day less than five weeks away, campaign cash to both sides in the battle for San Diego mayor is gushing through a sometimes confusing and byzantine network of corporations, unions, and political committees.
Among the latest contributors: Stuck in the Rough, LLC, a Los Angeles based entity that has ruffled feathers in North County over its controversial plans to develop the Escondido Country Club into condominiums.
A disclosure filing yesterday with the city clerk's office shows that on Monday, January 6, the developer gave $50,500 to a GOP Lincoln Club independent expenditure committee calling itself “Working Together for Neighborhood Fairness in Opposition to David Alvarez for Mayor 2014.”
As reported here last week, $37,000 in previous donations to the Lincoln Club and the county Republican Party, which the groups reported as being made by Touchstone Golf, a Texas-based golf course management firm, were actually from Stuck in the Rough.
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.
Three days before Stuck in the Rough made its contribution, the Lincoln Club itself funneled $51,000 to the anti-Alvarez committee. In addition, La Jollan James S. Quinn of American Property Enterprises kicked in $4000.
According to the Lincoln Club’s filing, the committee spent a total of $31,548 on preparing mailers that are expected to be sent soon.
During the primary, the Lincoln Club became famous — notorious in some quarters — for dispatching a series of take-no-prisoners hit pieces against Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher and his employer, cell-phone giant Qualcomm, founded by billionaire Obama-backer Irwin Jacobs.
The club is widely expected to unleash a similar series of attacks against Democratic city councilman Alvarez, who is running against GOP councilman Kevin Faulconer, the club's pick.
On the same day of the Lincoln Club donations, utility giant Sempra Energy gave $40,000 to the state Republican Party, according to a January 7 disclosure filing. In addition, the hotel lobby's San Diego Lodging Industry Association PAC gave $30,000. The next day, retail powerhouse Walmart Stores of Bentonville, Arkansas, kicked in with $25,000.
During the fall primary race, the state GOP paid for mailers backing Faulconer's campaign, according to disclosure reports.
Meanwhile, the California State Council of Service Employees Political Committee, run by the Service Employees International Union, backed Democrat Alvarez with $200,000 to an independent expenditure committee named “Working Families for a Better San Diego to Support David Alvarez for Mayor 2014” on January 7.
Another SEIU affiliate, United Health Care Workers West PAC, had come up with $40,000 the previous day.
(Lincoln Club contribution date corrected 1/8 12:10 p.m.)