Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer Doubles Down On Allegation Against Christie

The Christie administration pushed back again today over allegations made by Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer that two top Christie aides levied threats at Zimmer over a real estate development deal:

Gov. Chris Christie's office today once again fired back at claims leveled by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Hurricane Sandy relief money was held hostage by the governor, saying the city has received millions in aid and has not been denied any grant it has requested.
In a release, a spokesman for the governor slams Zimmer and MSNBC, which first aired Zimmer's claim, for conflating hazard mitigation funding with Sandy recovery money.  According to the governor's office, Hoboken already has received nearly $70 million in relief money.
"Hoboken has in no way trailed similarly situated communities in the receipt of rebuilding funds," the release from Christie's office said.

The Star-Ledger does note the following:

The release does not directly refute Zimmer's accusation, which is that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told her in May that relief funds could be choked off if she failed to support a redevelopment project in her city that was championed by the governor.

Zimmer said Guadagno told her it's not right that the two things are connected, but they are. Zimmer went on to say that Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable made similar comments later in the month telling her Sandy Aid would flow if she supported the project.

A spokesman for the DCA yesterday declared the accusation "categorically false."

This is the second attempt by the governor to refute Zimmer's claims. In a statement released yesterday, spokesman Colin Reed lashed out at MSNBC.

Zimmer went on CNN to make the allegations against the two Christie officials again today:

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said she was delivering a “direct message” from Gov. Chris Christie when she told Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer to approve a real estate project if she wanted more Hurricane Sandy aid for her city, the mayor said today.

In an appearance on CNN, Zimmer expanded on her allegations that members of the Christie administration told her in May to push through a Hoboken redevelopment project if the flood-prone city wanted help getting federal disaster aid.

“She said ... essentially you’ve got to move forward with the Rockefeller project, this project is really important to the governor,” Zimmer told CNN. “And she said that she had been with him on Friday night and this was a direct message from the governor.”

The Star-Ledger reports that Republicans have opened several fronts in their attempts to discredit Zimmer and her allegations:

Republicans appeared to be fighting back on several fronts to defend Christie's reputation. In addition to disputing the Hoboken mayor's recollection of her conversation with Guadagno, Christie's office sent the press a detailed memo disputing Zimmer's allegation that her city did not get its fair share of Hurricane Sandy aid.

Meanwhile, some Republicans called for a Democratic state assemblyman to recuse himself as head of one of the investigative committees looking into the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal because they said he is biased against Christie.

In her CNN interview, Zimmer defended herself against Republicans who questioned why she waited until Christie was facing a crisis to publicly accuse his administration of trying to strong arm her over Sandy funding.

But Zimmer has a pretty good rationale for why she waited until now to go public with her allegations:

In her CNN interview, Zimmer defended herself against Republicans who questioned why she waited until Christie was facing a crisis to publicly accuse his administration of trying to strong arm her over Sandy funding.

In the 16-minute interview on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley,” Zimmer said she initially thought she would hurt Hoboken’s chances for additional Sandy funding if she went public with her conversation with Guadagno or a similar conversation she had last year with Richard Constable, Christie’s current commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.

“I was really concerned that if I came forward, (and) no one believed me, that we would really be cut out of the Sandy funding. But as I watched the coverage with Bridgegate, you do see parallels and I just felt I had an obligation to come forward,” Zimmer said.

The problem for Christie here is that, post-BridgeGate, these allegations are totally believable.

It remains to be seen if their pushback, including sending attack dog Rudy Giuliani after Zimmer, will work.

I'm betting Zimmer has more credibility than any of Christie's henchmen, but we'll just have to see.

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