Hoboken Mayor's Diary Called Into Question in Christie Scandal
ABC's Shushannah Walshe and Josh Margolin report:
Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer's journal, which she turned over to the U.S. Attorney's office, has emerged as a crucial part of her claim against the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But now something she said in a deposition in July 2013 is calling into question her diary writing.
Earlier this month, on the heels of the developing lanes closure scandal, Zimmer accused the Christie administration of threatening to withhold Sandy relief funds if she did not back a Rockefeller Group development deal in Hoboken. When she came forward she pointed to diary entries she kept in May 2013, in which she writes about being approached and threatened by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The Christie administration has denied Zimmer's accusations.
In July 2013, Zimmer was deposed during a wrongful termination suit. The deposition, obtained by ABC News, would have been about two months after she chronicled the threats from the Christie administration.
"When you have meetings regarding day-to-day activities involving Hoboken business with your department heads, do you memorialize any of the conversation that takes place yourself?" attorney Louis Zayas, who represented former Hoboken public safety director Angel Alicea in a wrongful termination suit, asked Zimmer.
Zimmer replied, "No, I don't transcribe it."
Zayas then followed up and asked Zimmer if she "write(s) notes in a calendar or some sort of memo pad that says follow up on a text or this was said during this meeting; anything that would help you recall what was said during the course of the meeting?"
Zimmer replied, "No, I don't," adding usually the directors she is speaking with write down notes.
Zayas' client won the case against the city of Hoboken.
Zimmer's spokesperson released a statement from the mayor's attorney, Gerald Krovatin, saying Zayas was on a "media tour" and is "falsely claim[ing] that he asked Mayor Zimmer whether she keeps a personal diary or journal."
"In fact, the plain language of the deposition makes clear that he was referring to calendars and scheduling and appointments for the mayor and whether she takes notes at meetings," Krovatin said. "Those things bear no relationship to a personal diary or journal. This mischaracterization is not surprising coming from Mr. Zayas who has four pending lawsuits against the City and/or the Mayor in which he has demonstrated a clear personal animosity towards the Mayor."
Zayas disagreed with Krovatin's statement, saying Zimmer's "testimony speaks for itself" and adding that his questions were "not limited to calendars."
"She was very coy," Zayas told ABC News. "I had to ask her in different ways how did you keep these records and she ultimately said I don't keep a journal or a diary … she can't change what she testified to at her deposition. She said she didn't keep a journal or a diary and now she is saying she does."
Zayas said his client did observe Zimmer writing in a journal at meetings and his belief is she did not tell the truth at the deposition.
"I believe that she may have a journal she hasn't disclosed and the journal she produced is not her journal, it's not dated," said Zayas. "It doesn't seem to be part of any larger attempts to memorialize daily activities. It's something she scribbled when she decided to come forward against the governor."
Zayas called the situation "odd," adding, "It's unclear where the truth lies, but she has not been consistent about an existence of a journal."
Last week Zimmer told ABC News she "stand[s] by" her accusations against Guadagno and the Christie administration and said she expected there to be "personal attacks on me."
"I stand by what I said and I do appreciate that the U.S. Attorney's office is taking this seriously, and I definitely do not want to do anything that's going to impede with that investigation," Zimmer said.
Zimmer's office gave ABC News copies of pages of her diary and in it she does describe the conversation with Guadagno in a grocery store parking lot:
"She pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the gov," Zimmer wrote. "The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you."
"Are any other towns being required to develop in exchange for help with the flooding, I asked," she wrote. "'I know it's not right. These things should not be connected - but they are,' she says. 'If you tell anyone that, I'll deny it.'"
This was first reported by a local news outlet, Hudson County TV, which covers Hudson County, N.J.