Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno of New Jersey had some pointed words about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s recent allegations that Guadagno delivered a message from Gov. Chris Christie threatening to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief funds from the city if the mayor failed to back commercial development projects supported by the governor.
Zimmer, a Democrat who has supported Gov. Christie in the past, alleges that the lieutenant governor made the demands in May. The Hoboken mayor claims that Kim Guadagno pulled her aside and suggested that the governor’s office would not be able to help Hoboken – which was 80 percent flooded in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy – with federal relief funding if they did not move forward on development projects on property owned by the Rockefeller Group. The Rockefeller Group is legally represented by Wolff & Samson, a law firm with close political ties to the Christie administration.
Guadagno, who responded to the allegations Monday morning during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration in Union Beach, N.J., had this to say:
“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. Any suggestion, any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.”
Lt. Gov. Guadagno has met with Zimmer twice in Hoboken since the alleged May conversation. CNN notes that Mayor Zimmer struck a different tone when interviewed about relief efforts on Jan. 11, saying this of her dissatisfaction with the amount of federal and state aid received by Hoboken:
“I don’t think it was retaliation and I don’t have any reason to think it’s retaliation, but I’m not satisfied with the amount of money I’ve gotten so far.”
During her speech, Kim Guadagno said, “My job in the governor’s office is to oversee redevelopment and reinvestment in New Jersey,” suggesting that her meetings with Zimmer were reflective of that role. The lieutenant governor further claims that Gov. Christie gave her a directive preventing her from working directly with the Sandy recovery efforts because Guadagno had been personally victimized by Superstorm Sandy. Her Monmouth Beach home was damaged by the storm.
According to NPR, Mayor Zimmer has spoken with the U.S. Attorney’s office regarding her allegations and is willing to testify under oath and take a lie detector test. For her part, Guadagno, who has served as a prosecuting attorney and as sheriff of Monmouth County prior to being elected lieutenant governor says, “I look forward to the inquiries. I am sure, absolutely sure, the facts will come out.”