New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno flatly denied allegations made this weekend by the mayor of Hoboken that Guadagno, on behalf of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, had threatened to withhold aid money for recovery from Superstorm Sandy unless the mayor fast-tracked a real estate project supported by Christie.
The allegations, which Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer made Saturday on MSNBC, were “wholly and completely false,” Guadagno said Monday at an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the Asbury Park Press reports.
Zimmer alleged that Guadagno told her that unless she helped push the project forward, “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. If you tell anyone I said that, I will deny it.”
Zimmer said that another administration official, Richard Constable III, the commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, which was charged with allotting aid money, told her “the money would start flowing to you” if she backed that project. A spokesman for Constable denied the allegations.
“Mayor [Dawn] 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,” Guadagno said. “Any suggestion — any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey — is completely false.”
Guadagno said the accusation was “particularly offensive” to her because she herself had also been “a Sandy victim.”
The lieutenant governor said that she had had friendly and collegial experiences with Zimmer before and after the conversation in which Zimmer alleges Guadagno threatened to withhold Sandy aid.
“I thought I had a good relationship with the mayor of Hoboken,” Guadagno said. “In fact, just three months after this conversation she said we had occurred, I was walking on the streets with her in Hoboken talking to her about urban markets – just three months after this conversation she said we had, and five months before she went to MSNBC.”
Zimmer gave a similar description of the relationship on Sunday, telling CNN’s Candy Crowley, “That’s part of the reason that this was so hard because I did have a really good relationship. And so I couldn’t believe that they were doing this.” She was responding to a question about why she had continue to praise the administration even after this alleged interaction.
Zimmer’s allegations follow reports showing that top aides to Christie had conspired to shut down several lanes on the George Washington Bridge and gridlock traffic in the New Jersey city of Fort Lee, apparently in retaliation for the mayor’s refusal to endorse Christie’s re-election bid. Christie denied all knowledge, but Zimmer’s allegation, if true, would lend credence to the idea that there is a culture of bullying in the administration, even if Christie himself did not personally oversee the actions.