Jan 18 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's
administration threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief
funds from a flooded town unless a redevelopment plan Christie
favored was quickly approved, the mayor of Hoboken said on
The claim by Mayor Dawn Zimmer comes as Christie, a
Republican seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2016,
faces investigations into a traffic jam at the George Washington
Bridge that was apparently politically motivated.
Christie has denied any involvement in the so-called
"Bridgegate" scandal, and a spokesman dismissed Zimmer's claims,
calling them "partisan politics."
Zimmer, a Democrat, told MSNBC television Hoboken received
only a small part of the $127 million requested after Sandy,
which flooded the town on the Hudson River in October 2012.
Zimmer said Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Richard
Constable, Christie's community affairs commissioner, delivered
messages in May 2013 on behalf of Christie, whom she had long
They said that she needed to move ahead with plans for a
redevelopment project backed by the city's former mayor. Zimmer
had asked for a professional study of the plan.
In a diary entry provided to MSNBC, Zimmer said Constable
told her: "If you move that forward, the money would start
flowing to you."
Zimmer said Guadagno pulled her aside in a Hoboken parking
lot and told her: "I know it's not right. I know these things
should not be connected but they are."
"It's not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage
for the city of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one
private developer," Zimmer told MSNBC's "UP w/ Steve Kornacki."
The redevelopment project would have awarded the Rockefeller
Group, a New York developer, the right to redevelop a stretch of
Hoboken, which is across the river from Manhattan.
The project would have been eligible for tax incentives and
would have given the Rockefeller Group a freer hand to build,
while asking for millions of dollars in subsidies, MSNBC said.
Asked why she had delayed in coming forward with her
allegations, Zimmer, who was elected in 2009, said she probably
should have done it when the officials spoke with her.
"I have to act in the best interests of Hoboken. And we are
still at risk of not" getting Sandy funding, she said.
Hoboken had sought $127 million for Sandy damage, but
received just $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up
generator, plus $200,000 in recovery grants, MSNBC said.
Colin Reed, a Christie spokesman, said in an email that
Hoboken had been approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid.
It will get more when the Obama administration approves more
funding, he said.
"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," Reed wrote.
Christie is in Florida this weekend for fundraisers for
Republican Governor Rick Scott. It is Christie's first political
trip since the bridge scandal and is viewed as a test of donor
confidence in his potential presidential bid in 2016.
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said
in a statement that Zimmer's allegations would be pursued for
veracity and any connection to practices behind the bridge lane
A spokesman for Rockefeller Group said the company was
working to tell real estate and community leaders about the
plans and to seek feedback from prospective tenants to move the
planning process forward.
"We have no knowledge of any information pertaining to these
allegations. Our Hoboken project is in the preliminary stages of
planning and we have not filed any development applications for
review or approval," he said.
Twenty New Jersey officials, including Christie spokesman
Reed, were served with subpoenas on Friday as state lawmakers
began to investigate the massive traffic jam in September.
Emails between Christie aides and the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, appeared to show
the lane closures were orchestrated to punish the Democratic
mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing Christie in his
re-election bid last year.