Morris County Candidate’s Expense to Wyoming Company Raises Questions About Campaign Finance Transparency

Three losing candidates in June’s GOP Morris County Freeholder primary - Donald Dinsmore, William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield - appeared in court over an unknown Wyoming-based consultant hired by the campaign and a flier that essentially called the winning candidate, Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo, a criminal.

Sheridan, Wyoming, a town just south of Montana in the great northwest, would seem to have no connection to politics in Morris County, New Jersey.

Then again ….

One of the three candidates running on a slate against three incumbent Morris freeholders in the June Republican primary has spent $42,000 on consulting services with Checkmate Strategies LLC, which lists an address at 30 N.Gould Street in Sheridan, Wyo. That, according to an April 15 campaign financial statement filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission by candidate Donald Dinsmore.

Dinsmore is running on a slate with William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield against incumbents Doug Cabana, Kathy DeFillippo and Tom Mastrangelo. The ELEC filing by Dinsmore as an individual candidate lists the contribution as being made Feb. 4 of this year.

There is a New Jersey political consulting firm named Checkmate Strategies. Based in Jackson, it was co-founded by Chris Russell and has won numerous awards for its work.

But Russell said in an email that his firm is not involved with the Dinsmore campaign. He added that the only Morris County candidates his company has represented are Sheriff James Gannon and Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce.

So, there’s another Checkmate Strategies in Wyoming?


However, the address in question, 30 N. Gould Street, is actually a mail forwarding center. According to its website,Wyoming Mail Forwarding promises to open and scan all mail and deliver it to the recipient the day it arrives. All well and good, but who exactly is Checkmate Strategies. And why does it have the same name as a well-known New Jersey consultant?

Dinsmore said the expenditure was for “consulting services,” which is also how it’s described on the ELEC report. But he declined to elaborate further.

There are some obvious questions here. Besides who the consultant actually is, why is a candidate in Morris County using a mail forwarding outfit in Wyoming?

Clearly, none of this stuff has anything to do with county issues. But it does have something to do with transparency.

So far in the campaign, it’s been the three challengers who have been on the offensive, accusing the incumbents of “crony capitalism,” and of not truly embracing conservative, Republican values.

That may change between now and June 4, as there are still some joint campaign events on tap.

In case you’re wondering, they’re in Denville and Morris Plains, as opposed to say, Cheyenne and Rock Springs.

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