HOBOKEN, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — Hoboken’s mayor has stated in an interview that her city was going to be denied Hurricane Sandy relief money if she did not back a reconstruction project Gov. Chris Christie was in favor of.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC that in May, she was pulled aside by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadango who allegedly told the mayor that she needed to move forward with a development project or else the city would not get Sandy relief money, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
Zimmer said that Guadango finished the discussion by saying, “If you tell anyone I said it, I’ll deny it.”
In a statement to 1010 WINS Saturday, Zimmer said she kept quiet for months, in part because another round of federal Sandy aid has yet to be disbursed. “I probably should have come forward then. This was a really hard thing to do, and the events over the last few weeks have provided more insight into how the governor’s office works. I felt like I had to come forward.”
The development in question is a 19-block area on the north side of Hoboken.
The Rockefeller group owns three blocks on the site and is represented by the law firm of Port Authority Chairman David Sampson.
Zimmer said that Hoboken has only received $300,000 to repair and develop since the storm more than a year ago. The rest of the requested $100 million remains in limbo, while she still hasn’t approved the project, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
Gov. Christie released a statement Saturday in response to the accusations, calling MSNBC “a partisan network” that has been openly hostile to the governor and “almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him,” 1010 WINS reported.
The governor’s statement said the city has already been approved for $70 million in funding and is targeted to receive even more when the Obama administration approves the next rounds of funding.
“The governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she’s ‘very glad’ he’s been our governor. It’s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political axe to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get their faces on television,” the statement said.
On Saturday, New Jersey Assemblyman and Chairman for the Select Committee on Investigations John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) said that the allegations had attracted the committee’s attention.
“The allegations discussed today by Mayor Zimmer are serious and yet again raise concern about abuse of government power. This certainly has attracted our attention. We need to obtain all relevant facts, confer with our special counsel and determine the committee’s best course of action,” he said in a statement.
Hoboken City Councilman Michael Russo said he wants the City Council to investigate and get a closer look at any documents that Zimmer may have, Schneider reported.
“A great concern to me is that the mayor had these conversations with the governor’s office, or anyone involved with the governors administration, why is it being brought to the forefront now? I believe she should have brought this to the U.S. attorney, the state attorney general, the county prosecutor or even the local police department,” Russo said.
During the interview, Mayor Zimmer named Guadango and Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable as officials who delivered messages on Gov. Christie’s behalf.
The allegations come shortly after key members of Gov. Christie’s administration were among 20 people and organizations that received subpoenas to tell the committee what they knew about controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
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