TRENTON, N.J. — Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration on Monday pushed back against a claim that Superstorm Sandy relief funding was withheld from a severely flooded city because its Democratic mayor wouldn’t sign off on a politically connected real estate venture.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno strongly denied Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s claims as “false” and “illogical” on Monday, the day before Christie’s second-term inauguration. And Marc Ferzan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, told reporters in a conference call that Hoboken has been treated no differently than other cities with respect to storm relief funds.
Zimmer said on Saturday that Guadagno pulled her aside at a supermarket opening in May and said Hoboken’s storm recovery funds hinged on Zimmer’s approval of a commercial development whose lawyer and lobbyist are close to the governor. On Sunday, Zimmer told CNN the ultimatum was delivered on behalf of the governor, a possible 2016 presidential candidate.
Guadagno said the mayor’s description of the conversation “is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined.”
“Any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false,” she said.
Zimmer met with investigators from the U.S. attorney’s office for several hours on Sunday and gave them journal entries she said were made at the time of the conversation. She also has offered to take a lie-detector test or testify under oath.
Ferzan said claims that Hoboken received less than its fair share of disaster aid were a “mischaracterization.”
Superstorm Sandy, which was spawned in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems, killed people in 10 states, but New Jersey and New York were hit the hardest. It’s New Jersey’s worst natural disaster.