Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer charged on MSNBC's "Up With Steve Kornacki" show Saturday morning that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held Hurricane Sandy relief funds hostage to force her to approve a development plan that overly favored one specific property holder.
Christie's office denied the allegations as "outlandishly false" in a statement to the show.
Zimmer alleged that Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno told the mayor relief would be contingent on supporting the development 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," Zimmer says Guadagno told her.
Christie's community affairs commissioner Richard Constable also allegedly told Zimmer that if she moved forward with the development project, money would "start flowing to her." Christie denied the claims through a spokesman, and Constable has called the accusation "categorically false."
The property owner favored in the deal allegedly being pushed by Christie's office, the Rockefeller Group, told "Up With Steve" that they have no knowledge of any political pressure around the proposed development.
"If it turns out to be true, it would be deplorable," the company said in a statement to the show.
Christie is already facing a federal probe into whether he misused federal relief funds after Hurricane Sandy.
Zimmer has said that she asked for $100 million in relief funds for Hoboken, and received only $300,000. In an interview with WNYC last week Zimmer questioned whether Christie may have denied the funds because she declined to endorse him.
Several stories of Christie allegedly using his political muscle to bully people have surfaced since the governor's office was engulfed in scandal for ordering the unannounced closure of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge.
In December, The New York Times catalogued the stories of "a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district" -- all after displeasing Christie in some way.
"In almost every case," the Times wrote, "Mr. Christie waved off any suggestion that he had meted out retribution. But to many, the incidents have left that impression, and it has been just as powerful in scaring off others who might dare to cross him."
UPDATE (2:45 p.m. ET): New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) issued a statement Saturday in response to Zimmer's claims. Wisniewski is the lawmaker heading a probe of last September's lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, and he said the allegations have "certainly attracted" his unit's attention. Via TPM:
"The allegations discussed today by Mayor Zimmer are serious and yet again raise concern about abuse of government power. This certainly has attracted our attention. We need to obtain all relevant facts, confer with our special counsel and determine the committee's best course of action."
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