New Jersey’s Favorite State: Wyoming

Evan Weiss, an expert in public finance and economic development, has been hired by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as Senior Advisor for Public Finance.

Morris County’s June 4 primary is over, but Wyoming is still around.

Post-election day campaign finance reports show continued expenditures by two teams of candidates to Checkmate Action Group of Sheridan, Wyo. These reports are filed 20 days after an election with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission and are designed to show late campaign activity.

The appearance of a Wyoming firm on the Morris County political scene sparked interest that went beyond mere geography. The principals of Checkmate Action Group have not been publicly available and the candidates declined to explain who they were.

The freeholder team of Donald Dinsmore, William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield reported paying $28,300 to the firm for mailings and postage, according to the latest report. That was on top of at least $42,000 that the team previously spent on the consultant. The expenditure was unsuccessful as the Dinsmore, Felegi, Winterfield trio lost a GOP primary battle to three incumbents.

Brian Bergen had better luck.

Bergen took one of two Republican Assembly nominations in the 25th District. He originally spent $11,000 on Checkmate Action Group. The latest report shows that Bergen paid the firm an additional $14,000 that was divided among seven different checks for an array of services, including advertising, consulting and election day work.

Responding to this activity, Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce, a Republican from District 26, introduced a bill requiring the principals of campaign consultants of this type to be identified.

The man allegedly behind Checkmate Action Group has been identified elsewhere as King Penna, an often colorful, political consultant.

In a phone conversation on Tuesday, Penna essentially made three points.

He doesn’t run Checkmate Action Group.

He doesn’t see why details about the company are all that relevant.

There are far worse things going on in Morris politics than an unknown consultant.

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