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Hoboken Mayor Claims Christie Held Sandy Relief Hostage

Mayor Dawn Zimmer claims Gov. Christie\'s office tried to pressure her into approving a development by withholding Sandy relief funds.
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jan 19, 2014

When the accusations rain, they pour. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of withholding Hurricane Sandy relief funds as an act of political retribution.

During a Jan. 10 interview with WNYC, Zimmer complained Hoboken only received $300,000 of the requested $100 million in Sandy relief. At the time, Zimmer only speculated the shortage was an act of political revenge.

"I think probably all mayors are reflecting right now and thinking about it. But I really hope that's not the case."

But when Zimmer retold the story to MSNBC Friday, she had a concrete accusation to make against Christie.

"The Christie administration is connecting these Sandy funds to this Rockefeller project."

Zimmer's referring to a Rockefeller real estate development in Hoboken that was stalled by Zimmer's office last April. The Star-Ledger describes the potential project as "amorphous and shrouded with uncertainty."

Zimmer alleges two top Christie officials separately told her in May that Hoboken would miss out on Sandy relief funds unless she approved the Rockefeller project. 

In a May 17 diary fragment Zimmer recently made public, she wrote, "I thought [Christie] was honest. I thought he was moral. ... This week I found out he's cut from the same corrupt cloth that I have been fighting for the last four years." (Via Time)

Now, timing is everything here. Zimmer's claims come during a turbulent time for Christie.

His administration is the subject of a probe into lane closures on the George Washington bridge, and a federal probe is investigating whether Christie misspent Sandy relief money on tourism ads like this, that featured the governor. (Via NBC, StrongerThanTheStorm.com)

But Christie's camp denies the latest with his office accusing Zimmer of exploiting the recent headlines for publicity.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed told Townhall "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."

Christie aides also questioned why Zimmer didn't raise these concerns sooner, pointing to a series of tweets made by Zimmer back in August expressing support for the governor. (Via Twitter / @dawnzimmernj)

But Zimmer stood by her version of events in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday, saying didn't speak out until after Christie's bridge scandal was exposed because she didn't think anyone would believe her, and she feared even more retribution. 

"I was really concerned that if I came forward, no one would believe me and 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."

Hoboken did get $70 million from federal government insurance. The president is expected to approve another round of federal aid money to be distributed in the state.