Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., has reiterated her claim, in the face of denials from Governor Chris Christie's office, that his administration threatened to hold off funds earmarked for rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy, unless she signed off on a redevelopment project, media reports said Sunday.
A spokesperson for Christie denied the claim as “categorically false,” Associated Press reported, adding that Zimmer said she met on Sunday with, and submitted a journal and other documents to, federal prosecutors investigating Christie’s staff. In a statement issued Sunday night, Zimmer said she would “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,” according to AP.
On Saturday, Zimmer had claimed that Kim Guadagno, Christie’s lieutenant governor, and a senior community development official, had told her that Sandy relief funds would be directed to Hoboken if she hastened a commercial development project by New York-based Rockefeller Group.
On Sunday, Zimmer told CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” that Guadagno told her: "This project is really important to the governor,” and that it “was a direct message from the governor," media reports said.
Christie’s spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement issued Sunday: “Mayor Zimmer’s categorization about her conversation in Hoboken is categorically false,” AP reported.
According to media reports, Zimmer, who is Hoboken’s first female mayor, told CNN that Christie’s office was “holding our Sandy funds hostage” and that she did not talk about the conversation earlier because "I didn't think anyone would believe me."
In a press release dated Jan. 16, Christie’s administration announced that it had disbursed or committed $817 million, or more than 70 percent, of federal Sandy housing recovery funds to residents in need.
“Getting Sandy-impacted families back into their homes and communities has been a top priority of mine since the storm hit,” Christie said, in the statement.
Hurricane Sandy, which struck New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, killed 12 and damaged nearly 40,000 homes in New Jersey alone. More than $5.67 billion in total federal assistance was approved for the state, according to FEMA.
The hurricane flooded nearly 80 percent of Hoboken and left more than 90 percent of the city without power, according to the website of the mayor’s office.
And, according to a press release dated Oct. 29, 2013, the city received $500,000 from the Re.Invest Initiative, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, "to design and identify financing mechanisms to implement large-scale flood mitigation strategies into new parks.”