Home>Campaigns>King Penna, Hirsh Singh in lawsuit after borrowing $70,000 from two senior citizens in 2020 U.S. Senate race

Hirsh Singh. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

King Penna, Hirsh Singh in lawsuit after borrowing $70,000 from two senior citizens in 2020 U.S. Senate race

Consultant never paid back private loan he took to pay Singh campaign bills

By David Wildstein, November 23 2022 5:02 pm

Folks who enjoy the drama of New Jersey politics can give thanks to the constant spectacle of perennial candidate Hirsh Singh.

Singh is being sued by his former political consultant, King Penna, over a $159,463 unpaid invoice from the 2020 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

A lawsuit filed in July 2022 by two Morristown senior citizens, Anna and William Riker, allege that they loaned Penna and his consulting firm $70,000 two weeks before the primary election with a promise that they would be paid back $77,000 in 65 days.  Penna never paid them back.

In court papers filed by Penna and his firm, Kingmaker Strategies LLC, Penna alleges that Singh never paid a July 22, 2020 invoice.

“As a result of Singh’s wrongful failure to pay for services provided him…Singh has been unjustly enriched,” Penna claimed in his complaint.  Now Penna is asking a judge to force Singh to pay his bill and legal fees, with interest.

The debt alleged to Penna does not appear on reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.  The invoice Penna claims he issued was never reported.

Penna denies any personal liability to the Rikers, saying their contract was with his firm.

He said that the Rikers “breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that is implied in the promissory note, because they have filed suit knowing that repayment depended upon Hirsh Singh making payment, which he has not done.”

In their court filing, the Rikers say they later agreed to extend the loan to October 12 in exchange for an extra $3,000 in interest, with an additional $100 per day if payment was not made by October 20, 2020.   That would bring the amount owed to $156,400 through today.

Penna told the court that he needed the funds to pay for design and printing services for Singh’s Senate bid.

There is no complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, records show, but this could constitute illegal campaign contributions from Penna.

Singh lost the July 2020 primary election for the chance to take on U.S. Senator Cory Booker by two percentage points, 38%-36%, to Rik Mehta, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official.

The following year, Singh sought the Republican nomination for governor in a campaign managed by Penna, despite the alleged non-payment of his 2020 invoices.

Singh has lost six campaigns in five years, most recently an unsuccessful bid for a condo board seat in Atlantic City.  He has run for governor twice, U.S. Senate twice, and once for Congress, without ever emerging out of a GOP primary.

After losing to Mehta, Singh spent months representing himself in search of a recount.  Mehta later sued Singh for defamation; that case is still pending.

The financing of Singh’s campaigns has always appeared a little funky.  When he ran for governor in 2017, his father was able to put $1 million into the Singh campaign because his son still lived at home.

Penna has also been controversial.

During last year’s gubernatorial primary, he ambushed the wife of GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli at a NJ 101.5 debate, but Melinda Ciattarelli easily swatted him down.

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