A Morris County Round-up, Cattle Drive, and Rodeo – All in One Campaign Season

For a company with a Wyoming address, Checkmate Action Group gets around Morris County quite well.

Brian Bergen, one of four Republicans seeking two Assembly nominations in District 25, paid the firm $11,000 in two installments, according to his campaign finance report. The funds went to consulting and fundraising, the report said.

Earlier in the campaign season, it surfaced that Donald Dinsmore, whose three-person slate is challenging three incumbent freeholders in the June 4 GOP primary, paid $42,000 to the firm, also for consulting services.

The presence of an unknown Wyoming firm in a Morris County freeholder race has caused a ruckus of sorts.

The incumbent team of Tom Mastrangelo, Doug Cabana and Kathy DeFillippo have called for the state Election Law Enforcement Commission to investigate. Calling the company a “shadowy entity,” the incumbents want to know who is associated with the firm and who is getting the money.

Dinsmore, unwillingly, contributed to the confusion. His original report listed the firm in question as Checkmate Strategies, which is the name of a New Jersey political consultant. Later, Dinsmore, who said the original entry was a clerical error, amended the report to read, Checkmate Action. But he has declined say anything about who the company is.

Asked about his $11,000 campaign expense, Bergen said via email, “I’m not interested in commenting about this at this time.”  Others in the race are incumbent Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, John Barbarula and Aura Dunn. One seat in the district is being vacated by Michael P. Carroll, who is running for surrogate.

The listed address of Checkmate Action Group is 30 North Gould Street in Sheridan, which is in northern Wyoming. That address, however, is shared by dozens of other businesses and appears to be a mail forwarding location.

The laws of Wyoming may come into play here. There is a newspaper in that locale, the Sheridan Press. A source there put it this way in an email: “Wyoming is … known to be a state friendly to LLCs who like to be anonymous.”

That sure seems to be the case here.

This may not be a major issue in that it has no bearing on how someone is going to actually govern.

Yet, just about all candidates talk about a need to be transparent, or put another way, a need not to hide things from the public.

And that definitely is the issue here.

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