New Jersey lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno (R) unequivocally denied allegations that she threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief aid from the city of Hoboken unless its mayor approved a real estate project, in a Monday morning statement to the press.
Dawn Zimmer (D), the mayor of Hoboken, alleged over the weekend that embattled governor Chris Christie’s administration warned her that Hoboken would not receive disaster relief funds unless Zimmer approved a redevelopment plan favored by the governor.
“The lieutenant governor pulled me aside and said essentially, ‘you got to move forward with the Rockefeller project,’” Zimmer told CNN.
She added that Guadagno told her that ‘this project is really important to the governor,” and “if you tell anyone about it, I’ll deny it.”
Zimmer requested $127 million in funds for Hoboken after the storm, but received only about $350,000 in recovery grants.
On Monday, Guadagno flatly denied Zimmer’s allegations.
“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined,” Guadagno told reporters in Union Beach, NJ. “Any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.”
“Being a Sandy victim myself makes the mayor’s allegation particularly offensive to me,” Guadagno added.
Guadagno’s strong denial will not stop the story from moving forward. Mayor Zimmer says she met with the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey on Sunday to discuss her allegations; if the inquiry continues to expand, it would likely force some key players in Christie’s administration to go under oath.
Superstorm Sandy’s introduction into the scandal surrounding the Christie administration’s political score settling could prove particularly damaging to the governor, who has built much of his political brand around his active, non-partisan response to the disaster. Hoboken was hit especially hard by the storm, which left up to 80 percent of the city underwater.
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