NJ mayor: Christie held Sandy aid hostage

A New Jersey mayor alleged Saturday that two top aides to Gov. Chris Christie threatened to withhold hurricane relief funds unless she approved a redevelopment plan supported by the governor’s office.

Allegations from Hoboken N.J. mayor Dawn Zimmer come just days after documents revealed that top Christie staffers coordinated a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge as payback against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his re-election.

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Zimmer told MSNBC that although she requested some $127 million in hurricane aid, she ultimately received less than $400,000 in grants, despite significant damage to the city after Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012.

In diary entries Zimmer says come from May of last year, she recalls Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Christie’s community affairs commissioner, Richard Constable strongly suggesting that Sandy relief money was connected to approving the project.

“The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it,” Zimmer quotes Guandagno as saying.

It’s not the first time since the bridge scandal broke that Zimmer has accused Christie of foul play.

In an interview with WNYC earlier this week, Zimmer suggested that Christie withheld hurricane relief funds because she decided to remain neutral in the governor’s race — not because of the redevelopment deal.

“He was quite disappointed, but I wouldn’t say that he was angry. He was disappointed and said he would keep asking,” Zimmer said of an endorsement. 

The governor’s office flatly denied Zimmer’s allegations in a statement to MSNBC.

“Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of the Governor’s Office and the assistance we’ve provided in terms of economic development and Sandy aid,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.  “What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is anyone’s guess.”