The King of Penna

Penna

Seeking state office for the first time in 2019, Brian Bergen was looking for professional assistance. He found it with King Penna, a well-known, but at times controversial, Morris County political consultant.

Bergen won his race and is now an assemblyman from the 25th District.  So, all’s well and good with the Bergen-Penna partnership.

Well, not really.

Penna went to court claiming Bergen never paid him a $15,000 bonus because he won the race. And in February, Judge William J. McGovern III in state Superior Court, Morristown, agreed with Penna and ordered Bergen to pay.

Bergen, for his part, said he learned a lesson.

“Hiring King Penna was hands down the worst decision. In my opinion and based on my experience he is an abysmal excuse for a campaign consultant and mean-spirited. In my eagerness to get my race moving, I signed a contract that entitled him to a win bonus that in hindsight, I should have tied … to his actual performance, which was lackluster at best. My win was despite his interference and not the result of any of his ‘work.’ ”

Wow!

For those who have forgotten, the 2019  Assembly race in the district was an interesting one. The primary involved four people – incumbent Anthony M. Bucco, Aura Dunn, John Barbarula and Bergen.  Bucco and Bergen won the two nominations and also prevailed in the fall.

Since then, Dunn has gotten to the Assembly herself and to complete the circle, Barbarula surfaced as Bergen’s attorney in the case brought by Penna.

Needless to say, Penna’s court-filed certification contradicts Bergen’s criticism of his work.

Penna says he was intimately involved in the campaign, noting that from Jan. 23 to Feb. 19 of 2019, they spoke 40 times on the phone for more than four hours total. Penna also says that he gave Bergen instructions on filing a nominating petition with the coveted slogan – “Regular Republican Party.”

The certification also says Penna advised Bergen “to run solo” and that he (Penna) counseled the candidate not to overreact emotionally to critical press releases or other campaign misadventures, saying that at times he had to talk Bergen “off the ledge.”

In general, Penna says he took on the job of helping Bergen in good faith and that his $15,000 “win bonus” was part of the contract.

This proves, one supposes, that winning does indeed come with a price.

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