Mayor fleshes out Christie charge

Says Sandy aid ultimatum came directly from the N.J. governor

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TRENTON, N.J. -- The Democratic mayor of a town severely flooded by Superstorm Sandy said Sunday that she was told an ultimatum tying recovery funds to her support for a prime real estate project came directly from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a claim that a Christie spokesman called "categorically false."

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she met with federal prosecutors in Newark for several hours Sunday at their request and turned over a journal and other documents.

"I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the lieutenant governor came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project," she said in a statement Sunday night.

Earlier on Sunday, Ms. Zimmer told CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" that the message pushing a commercial development by the New York City-based Rockefeller Group was delivered by Kim Guadagno, Mr. Christie's lieutenant governor, when she and Ms. Guadagno were at an event in Hoboken in May to celebrate the opening of a new supermarket.

"The lieutenant governor pulled me aside and said, essentially, 'You've got to move forward with the Rockefeller project. This project is really important to the governor.' And she said that she had been with him on Friday night and that this was a direct message from the governor," Ms. Zimmer recalled Ms. Guadagno saying.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed issued a statement Sunday saying, "Mayor Zimmer's categorization about her conversation in Hoboken is categorically false."

On Saturday, Ms. Zimmer said Ms. Guadagno and a top community development official separately told her that recovery funds would flow to her city if she expedited the project.

Ms. Zimmer said she didn't reveal the conversation with Ms. Guadagno until now because she feared no one would believe her. But, with Hoboken having received just $342,000 out of $1.8 billion in Sandy recovery aid from the state in the first funding round, she said, she is speaking out in hopes her city won't be shut out in a second funding wave, when New Jersey is due to disperse $1.4 billion. Hoboken has also received millions in federal aid.

Mr. Christie, meanwhile, is embroiled in another scandal that threatens to undercut his second term and future presidential ambitions. The U.S. attorney's office and a state legislative panel are investigating allegations that Christie aides engineered traffic jams in Fort Lee by closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge, possibly as payback against the town's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse Mr. Christie for re-election.


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