Fight of the Week: King versus Mastrangelo

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

Morris County Republicans had a pretty good election night, but not everyone is in the mood to celebrate. Take Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo. He wants the leadership of the county’s Republican party to resign.

In a statement this week, Mastrangelo, who was just reelected to his freeholder seat, blasted the leaders of his own party for supporting “opportunists looking for power and title” as opposed to “solid public servants with the best intentions.”

He did not name names, but it seems clear Mastrangelo was referring to a three-person slate that unsuccessfully challenged him and two fellow incumbents in last June’s primary.

Mastrangelo’s plea drew a quick response from those the freeholder wants out.

Here’s the upshot. No one is quitting and Mastrangelo is the one with the problem.

In a letter to Mastrangelo, Peter King, the general counsel of the Morris County Republican Committee, calls the freeholder’s release “baseless, malicious and deceitful.”

King goes on to defend the open primary system – a Morris County Republican tradition – and to accuse Mastrangelo of not financially supporting the party.

Then we get to the juicy part.

King says that Mastrangelo has a “history replete with complaints, police reports and charges evidencing anger issues, as well as a pattern of bullying and intimidating women and anyone who disagrees with (him).”  No specific examples are given.

As anyone can figure out, there is a lot of bad blood here. Some of it goes back a few years; some of it is ongoing.

Mastrangelo has initiated court action against the three-person slate that challenged him in June, asserting that they improperly and illegally circulated an expunged police report about him. Another claim is that the challengers violated campaign law by not fully identifying a consultant. The next hearing on the case is scheduled for Nov. 22 in state Superior Court, Morristown.

All this seems like a run-up to next year’s election for county chair. In the June, 2018 election, Ron DeFilippis was elected chair by four votes and feelings, to say the least, are still raw.

King finished his letter by citing a string of election day successes for Morris Republicans, including holding state Assembly seats, and winning all county-wide offices and the three available council seats in Parsippany, the county’s largest town.

That is an impressive scorecard.

And it makes you wonder how much higher the animosity level would be if Republicans had lost a few of those races.

Below is reprinted King’s full letter.

November 14, 2019
Honorable Thomas J. Mastrangelo
59 Village Drive
Montville, NJ 07045
           Re:      Morris County Republican Committee
Dear Freeholder Mastrangelo:
           I am writing you in my capacity as General Counsel to the Morris County Republican Committee (“MCRC”). The MCRC is made up of more than 660 volunteers from each of the municipalities in Morris County. I should note that we the MCRC’s mission is “direct the affairs and further the interest of the Republican party in Morris County” who are not paid.
           We are compelled to respond to your attack on our group and the 660 plus volunteers, which you believe you have to remove since “it is time to rebuild our caucus from the ground up”.
           Although your press release was baseless, malicious and deceitful, you made bold assertions and attacked the MCRC as a whole, and you failed to provide any salient facts to support your mean-spirited allegations.
           Your letter can be boiled down into two parts: (1) you are complaining that Morris County has an open primary and that you were challenged in the primary in 2019; and (2) you believe MCRC does little for County and local Republican candidates.
           With regard to your allegation that Morris County has an open primary and that somehow this is a bad thing is pretty rich coming from you. As you well know, you began your political career challenging incumbents in a primary Freeholders race. [See article ‘Republicans campaign for 3 Morris County freeholder seats]. It seems that although in 2010 it was alright for you to challenge incumbents, you believe, as an incumbent, you should not be challenged. In fact, John Cesaro, Dave Scapicchio, and John Krickus, as well as Hank Lyons, all challenged incumbent Freeholders in 2011 and 2012, however you were silent at that time.
With regard to fundraising issues in the County, you need only look in the mirror to see who created the upheaval in fundraising for the MCRC. In 2013, the prior Chair, John Sette, advised you that you were holding “unauthorized fundraising events” and that continued practice would “hurt our [MCRC] ability to raise necessary funds” for other county and municipal office seekers. You have continually and unabashedly run multiple fundraisers solely for your own benefit which, since 2013, has been hurting the Republican party. As a result, you have continued to degrade the ability of the MCRC to raise money for county and local races. In fact, since June of 2018, you have waged a war on MCRC’s ability to raise money by telling vendors not to contribute to MCRC. Your small group of disgruntled cohorts have called people and even chastised them for coming to MCRC events. When MCRC sponsored an event for the 2019 county ticket, you attempted to cancel it, and furthermore, did nothing to help support the event. In fact, you failed to show up yourself.
           Last, and more troubling, you and a close associate of yours have contacted our vendors and attempted to interfere with our ability to get a County mailer completed. In addition, you abused your official position as a Freeholder to try to stop the MCRC from using a Morris County facility for the upcoming convention on November 212019 where the LD 25 County Committee will convene to nominate a replacement for the vacant seat.  These actions to do not help further injures the interest of the Republican party.
           As stated above, your letter has no merit, contains no facts, and isfabrication. You claim that the current leadership, which was only elected in June of 2018, has somehow destroyed the party where you, for the last nine years, have been a senior elected official for the County and have done very little to support this party. For the last year and a half, you have donated no money to MCRC and, in fact, owe MCRC several hundred dollars for events that you didn’t pay for and sponsorships you committed to but failed to pay the associated fee.
           What is most perplexing based on your conduct is your statement that “In today’s negatively charged political environment, voters are tired of nastiness and petty character assassinations to prevail in our seemingly endless campaign season”. Your nine years as an elected official is replete with evidence of fostering a negatively charged political environment, nastiness, and harassment.
           You began politics by challenging incumbents in a primary, which now you decry as a mortal sin. [See article Morris County Freeholder Ousted in Republican Primary Race]  You fought with the prior two Chairs and disregarded the party for your own personal ambition. [See article ‘Morris GOP Chairman at odds with Freeholder director over his fundraising tacts’.] You attempted to assault with a motor vehicle primary challengers in 2013. [See articles 1 and 2.] You attacked a fellow Freeholder at a caucus meeting. [See article ‘Mastrangelo goes after Cesaro in charged Morris Freeholder contest’] You attacked incumbent Freeholder candidates in a primary. [See article, “Attack Mode, Morris County Freeholder Candidates Battle for Influence”.] You sent your son to tape a rival’s rally. [See article, ‘Team Mastrangelo Caught in a Lie’.] You had sued two other teams of candidates for challenging you. [See article ‘Mastrangelo will sue Dinsmore in search of mystery consultant and ‘Charges between Morris County Freeholder Candidates Dismissed’ .] And, you threatened and vulgarly used profanities against elected officials. [See You Tube ‘Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo Threatening and Cursing.]
           You have a history replete with complaints, police reports, and charges evidencing anger issues, as well as a pattern of bullying and intimidating women and anyone who disagrees with you. This is evidence of a person who does not have the capacity to refrain from “negatively charged political environment, nastiness, and harassment” that voters are tired of and “control the petty character assassinations”.
           As for MCRC and its membership, since June of 2018 we are building up the party and supporting the elected Republican officials. The Republican party in Morris County is thriving. The MCRC, through the hard work of the its members, has achieved the following:
  • ·        Moved into State of the Art New office, open to all Republicans
  • ·        Hosted meetings, trainings, think tanks and social events in new office, engaging new faces and republicans all the time
  • ·        Re-launched Morris County Teenage Republicans
  • ·        Offered head shots and videos to all candidates
  • ·        Employed Field Directors to help with Campaigns
  • ·        Organized door knockers paid and volunteers
  • ·        Digital Ads on media news sites
  • ·        Sponsored robo calls for certain towns
  • ·        Formed new  marketing partnerships with new vendors offering discounts to all candidates for all campaign needs
  • ·        Prevailed in all Assembly races, that were aggressively contested
  • ·        Secured all County Seats that were contested
  • ·        Obtained victory in major towns including Parsippany and Denville
  • ·        Conducted County Wide Mailers sand Signs
  • ·        Conducted County Wide Campaign School
  • ·        Registered more than 6000 new voters as Republicans this year
  • ·        Quadrupled our Social Media following and Digital Footprint
  • ·        Implemented a new state-of-the-art website that attracts thousands of volunteers and readers per month
  • ·        Attracted big name speakers for events such asGreg Gutfeld and Tanto Paranto
  • ·        Increased readership of email newsletters by over 400%
  • ·        And much much more
           Based upon the above, we most respectfully deny your request for resignations of the MCRC and would ask that you clean up your act and truly follow Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment of  “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican”.
                                                                  Peter J. King
                                                                                   PETER J. KING
                                                                                   GENERAL COUNSEL
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