NJ mayor accuses Christie of withholding Sandy aid

By: ABC News Email
By: ABC News Email

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HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Dawn Zimmer the mayor of Hoboken, NJ., said today that millions of dollars in Sandy relief was withheld from the city after she refused to approve a major new development favored by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Zimmer, appearing on the MSNBC show "UP with Steve Kornack," 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.

Christie officials deny Zimmer's claims.

According to Zimmer, Hoboken has only received around $340,000 in Sandy aid, 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.

Zimmer said she had asked for more than $100 million in aid that has still not come into the city.

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 for years in the city when the company first starting to speaking to city officials about development in 2008.

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

"I literally feel like I am between a rock and a hard place," said Zimmer, who has not approved the development.

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.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said, in a statement that was posted on MSNBC, the accusation was false.

"Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of the governor's office and the assistance we've provided in terms of economic development and Sandy aid. What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is any one's guess," Drewniak said.

Zimmer also alleged that she was pressured by New Jersey Commissioner Richard Constable to reconsider the development when they were at a television special.

When reached for comment, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs denied the allegations.

"Mayor Zimmer's allegation that on May 16, 2013, in front of a live auditorium audience, Commissioner Constable conditioned Hoboken's receipt of Sandy aid on her moving forward with a development project is categorically false," a department spokesperson said in a statement.

In spite of her accusations, Zimmer has publicly supported Christie as recently as this summer, which was after the conversations allegedly happened. She has previously written on her Twitter account that she was "happy" Christie was governor.

Zimmer stayed neutral during the gubernatorial race last year.

Zimmer said the conversations happened in the spring of 2013. When asked by Kornack 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."

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