New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno this morning denied that she pressured a mayor to approve a stalled development project or risk losing Sandy relief funds.
Over the weekend, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmeman said in several interviews that in May of 2013, five months after Superstorm Sandy devastated portions of her town, that the Lt. Governor pulled her aside to deliver a message from Governor Chris Christie. “I was directly told the by the lieutenant governor — she made it very clear — that the Rockefeller project needed to move forward or they wouldn’t be able to help me,” Zimmer told The Associated Press. “There is no way I could ethically do what the governor, through the lieutenant governor, is asking me to do.”
Guadagno said the mayor’s version of their conversation is false, “Any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false,” she said. Guadagno says she’s suprised that mayor Zimmer would “mischaracterize” their conversation because as Lt. Governor she has done a lot to create jobs in Hoboken, including the redevelopment of a parcel one mile south of the Rockefeller site. “She asked me to find her a company to fill it and we did. Right now Pearson Education is in the waterfront, they’ve created hundreds of jobs, they’ve created hundreds of construction jobs. So, I’m very surprised by the mayor’s allegations and I deny wholeheartedly those allegations.”
Mayor Zimmer says she has turned over her journal notes that detail the conversation with Guadagno to federal prosecutors at the the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. The chairman of a New Jersey Assembly committee investigating lane closures in Fort Lee said he will also look into the mayor’s allegation that the Christie administration held Sandy funds hostage in exchange for support for favored projects.