Christie Denies NJ Mayor Allegations of Withholding Sandy Aid

Hoboken mayor said aid was connected to development approval.

ByABC News
January 18, 2014, 11:50 AM

Jan. 19, 2014— -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has denied allegations by a New Jersey mayor that millions of dollars in Sandy relief was withheld from Hoboken for political reasons.

Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, NJ., said Saturday, in an appearance on MSNBC, that Christie officials told her that storm funds would be withheld unless she approved a development deal.

Christie's office denied the accusation and in a statement said that Christie has "been helping Hoboken get the help they need" and that the city had received $70 million in federal aid and would likely get more when the next round of funding is approved.

"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," the statement read Saturday. "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."

Zimmer, appearing this morning on the MSNBC show "UP with Steve Kornacki," said Christie administration officials told her multiple times that further Sandy funds would not be approved unless the major helped fast-track a new development.

Zimmer said although she had asked for around $100 million Hoboken had only received around $340,000 in Sandy aid from the state, even though the city was extensively flooded for days after the storm, leaving residents to wade through knee-high water that was filled with pollutants.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed said in a lengthy statement that Zimmer's $100 million in aid request was from a $300 million pot of money.

Zimmer did not return repeated requests for comment from ABC News.

The commercial development, planned by the Rockefeller Group, has been a political sore spot in the city since 2008, when the company first starting to speaking to city officials about the project.

Both Christie and his predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine, have supported the development, which Zimmer said would take up millions of square feet in a city that is only one square mile wide.

In an interview on radio station WNYC last weekend, Zimmer made no mention of the development project. She said only that Christie asked her to endorse him for re-election during a meeting.

"He was quite disappointed, but I wouldn't say that he was angry," she told WNYC.

"With 20/20 hindsight, in the context we're in right now, we can always look back and say, 'OK, was it retribution?'" Zimmer told the station. "I really hope that's not the case."

According to the Zimmer, Christie officials made it clear to her in the spring that development approval was needed for her to receive additional state aid for Sandy.

"The fact is the lieutenant governor [Kim Guadagno] came to Hoboken, she pulled me aside in the parking lot and said 'I know it's not right, I know these things should not be connected, but they are and if you tell anyone I'll deny it,'" Zimmerman said.

Reed also pointed out multiple instances where Zimmer thanked Christie for his help in the days immediately after Hurricane Sandy.

Zimmer said the conversations happened in the spring of 2013. When asked by Kornacki why she did not come forward earlier, Zimmer said, "I probably should have come forward then. This is the hardest thing I've ever done."

ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this article.