Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, left, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right. (Associated Press)
Trenton, N.J. — The Democratic mayor of a town severely flooded by Superstorm Sandy said Sunday that she was told an ultimatum tying recovery funds to her support for a prime real estate project came directly from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a claim a Christie spokesman called “categorically false.”
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she met with federal prosecutors in Newark for several hours Sunday at their request and turned over a journal and other documents.
“I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project,” she said in a statement Sunday night.
Earlier Sunday, Zimmer told CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” that the message pushing a commercial development by the New York-based Rockefeller Group was delivered by Kim Guadagno, Christie’s lieutenant governor, when she and Guadagno were at an event in Hoboken in May to celebrate the opening of a new supermarket.
“The lieutenant governor pulled me aside and said, essentially, ‘You’ve got to move forward with the Rockefeller project. This project is really important to the governor.’ And she said that she had been with him on Friday night and that this was a direct message from the governor,” Zimmer recalled Guadagno saying.
Christie spokesman Colin Reed issued a statement Sunday saying, “Mayor Zimmer’s categorization about her conversation in Hoboken is categorically false.”
Hoboken, a low-lying city of 50,000 across from Manhattan, was nearly swallowed by the Hudson River during Sandy, with three of its electrical substations and most of its firehouses flooded, businesses and homes submerged, the train station inundated with water, and people trapped in high-rises because elevators didn’t work and lobbies were underwater.
Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney’s office and a state legislative panel are investigating allegations that Christie aides engineered traffic jams in Fort Lee by closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge, possibly as payback against the town’s Democratic mayor, who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the legislator leading the state investigation, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that his committee would look into Zimmer’s political payback allegation as well.
“I think we have to give the allegations serious thought,” he said, “because this is a pattern we’ve heard time and time again throughout New Jersey.”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, told “Meet the Press” that Wisniewski is part of a “partisan witch hunt” and should step down.
Wisniewski countered that his committee of eight Democrats and four Republicans is bipartisan and would continue its investigation. The committee issued 20 new subpoenas Friday.