Mayor: Christie camp threatened to withhold Sandy relief

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is joined by Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken during a joint press conference Nov. 4, 2012, in Hoboken, N.J.
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HOBOKEN, N.J. -- A New Jersey mayor has said that her city was going to be denied money for Superstorm Sandy relief if she did not support a reconstruction project backed by Gov. Chris Christie, CBS New York reports.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC that she was pulled aside last May by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadango, who allegedly told the mayor that she needed to move forward with a development project or else the city would not get Sandy relief money.

Zimmer said that Guadango finished the discussion by saying, "If you tell anyone I said it, I'll deny it."

The development in question was a 19-block area on the north side of Hoboken.

The law firm of David Sampson, chairman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, represents the New York-based Rockefeller Group, which owns three blocks on the site.

Zimmer said that Hoboken has received less than 1 percent of the Sandy money that it requested.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed released a statement Saturday in response to the accusations, calling MSNBC "a partisan network" that has been openly hostile to the governor and "almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him."

"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. 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," the statement said.

On Saturday, New Jersey Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chairs the Select Committee on Investigations, said that the allegations had attracted the committee's attention.

"The allegations discussed today by Mayor Zimmer are serious and yet again raise concern about abuse of government power. This certainly has attracted our attention. We need to obtain all relevant facts, confer with our special counsel and determine the committee's best course of action," he said in a statement.

Zimmer still hasn't approved the project; however she did request $127 million in hurricane relief. She received $142,000 to defray the cost of a generator and $200,000 in recovery grants, according to MSNBC.

The governor's statement Saturday refutes that claim, saying the city has already been approved for $70 million in funding and is targeted to receive even more when the Obama administration approves the next rounds of funding.

During the interview, Zimmer named Guadango and Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable as officials who delivered messages on Christie's behalf.

The allegations come shortly after key members of Christie's administration were among 20 people and organizations that received subpoenas to tell the legislative committee what they knew about controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.