Trenton, N.J. • Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration on Monday pushed back against a claim that Superstorm Sandy relief funding was withheld from a severely flooded city because its Democratic mayor wouldn’t sign off on a politically connected real estate venture.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno strongly denied Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s claims on Monday, the day before Christie’s second-term inauguration.
Marc Ferzan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, told reporters that Hoboken has been treated no differently than other cities.
Zimmer said on Saturday that Guadagno pulled her aside at a supermarket opening in May and said Hoboken’s storm recovery funds hinged on Zimmer’s approval of a commercial development, whose lawyer and lobbyist are close to the governor. On Sunday, Zimmer told CNN the ultimatum was delivered on behalf of the governor.
Guadagno said the mayor’s description of the conversation “is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined..”
Zimmer met with investigators from the U.S. attorney’s office Sunday and gave them journal entries that she said were made at the time of the conversation. She also has offered to take a lie-detector test or testify under oath.
Superstorm Sandy, which was spawned in October 2012, is New Jersey’s worst natural disaster.
Ferzan said the state has received more than $14 billion in requests statewide for Hazard Mitigation grants but has only about $300 million to disburse. Christie administration officials have said Hoboken has requested more than $100 million in such funding.
Federal authorities and state legislators are investigating another scandal involving the Christie administration — allegations that the governor’s top aides orchestrated traffic jams in Fort Lee by blocking off lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which connects to New York City, possibly to punish the town’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing the governor for re-election.