Court Hearing Cancellation won’t Stem the Tide of Ill Will

Three incumbent Morris County freeholders appear well on their way to victory in what has been a particularly nasty 2019 election.

MORRISTOWN – A court hearing was cancelled, but the saga of a Morris County freeholder primary that just won’t end continues.

Rather than hold a formal session Friday morning,  Judge William McGovern in state Superior Court, Morristown, eschewed oral arguments and opted to decide a procedural issue on submitted briefs.

This is boiling down to an acrimonious battle among Republicans stemming from last June’s GOP freeholder primary.

Incumbent Tom Mastrangelo, who won a party nomination, has gone to court over what he terms a libelous mailing for the benefit of his three opponents – Donald Dinsmore, William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield. A companion issue is the challengers’ campaign consultant – a Wyoming firm that the challengers have not fully identified.

Mastrangelo contends that the mailing in the very least was unethical, because it referenced a police arrest of his that has been expunged.

Broadly speaking, the Dinsmore team argues that the expunged record previously had been made public and that the challengers had nothing to do with the mailing anyway.

At a hearing in July, the judge ordered the Dinsmore team to make available all records involving their campaign and the consultant. It’s now up to the judge to decide if they have done so.

Legal technicalities aside, spicing up this case has been the transcript of a profane phone message Mastrangelo left in 2016 for Parsippany Republican Lou Valori. The message, which was submitted to the court by the Dinsmore team, includes the freeholder colorfully criticizing a number of county Republicans, including some of his then colleagues.

While the legal relevancy of a three-year-old recording can be questioned, it has caused quite a stir among Morris Republicans.

Keep in mind that Mastrangelo is seeking reelection this fall.

Democrats are paying attention too.

Cara Parmigiani, one of the party’s three freeholder candidates, is calling on Mastrangelo’s running mates Doug Cabana and Kathy DeFillippo and all Morris County Republicans “to denounce this behavior.”

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