NJ Lt Governor: No, Christie never threatened Sandy relief funds

Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer made headlines yesterday by claiming that beleaguered Governor Chris Christie threatened to withhold relief funds for Hurricane Sandy victims unless Zimmer endorsed Christie’s redevelopment plans. Zimmer first appeared on MSNBC to float this accusation, and then on CNN to expand it, claiming that the message had come through Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “She said that to me — is that this is a direct message from the governor,” Zimmer said.

This morning, sources close to Guadango rip Zimmer for the claim, and say she will “categorically deny” the accusations:

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is expected to “categorically deny” allegations Monday that she gave Hoboken’s Mayor an ultimatum to support a redevelopment plan backed by Gov. Chris Christie in order to receive Hurricane Sandy recovery aid, a source said.

Guadagno’s remarks will be the first time a senior Christie official has addressed the charges Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer first made Saturday on MSNBC.

Zimmer went even further Sunday, implicating Christie directly in an interview on CNN.

On CNN’s State of the Union, Zimmer said Guadagno told her that Sandy relief funds hinged on her support for a real estate development project by the Rockefeller Group — a directive that she said came directly from Christie.

Zimmer has a credibility issue on this point, though. None of this came out before now, when the threat took place months ago — well before Christie’s re-election effort. “If I came forward [then],” Zimmer tells Candy Crowley, “I was afraid no one would believe me.” Crowley is pretty skeptical, in large part because after this supposed threat, Zimmer continued to praise Christie and the relief efforts. If this had taken place and brought tears to her eyes, as Zimmer now claims, why publicly praise Christie afterward? Zimmer claims that Hoboken was her first priority, but that … kind of makes her a liar at some point, does it not? And why come out to tell this tale after an election, rather than before when it might make a difference in freeing Hoboken from the threat of Christie’s wrath?

And for that matter, she continued to defend Christie even after Bridgegate’s eruption. As CNN points out, Zimmer appeared on the same network just eight days earlier to deny that Christie attempted to extort her endorsement:

Zimmer’s comments Saturday and Sunday are a change from what she told CNN on January 11. She said then that while she wondered whether Sandy aid funds were being withheld because she didn’t endorse the governor’s re-election, she concluded that “I don’t think that’s the case.”

“I don’t think it was retaliation and I don’t have any reason to think it’s retaliation, but I’m not satisfied with the amount of money I’ve gotten so far,” Zimmer told CNN then. She did not mention her concerns about the redevelopment project.

Zimmer has been lying to people at some point. Either she did so between May and January 17th, or from January 18th to today. Either way, she doesn’t have any credibility left, and this looks like utter nonsense.

Update: Joe Scarborough isn’t buying it either — and says Zimmer is only proving herself to be corrupt (via The Corner):


“If you were so let down and you call him ‘corrupt’ in your private diary, why are you saying he’s a great guy publicly?” Scarborough asked on Morning Joe on Monday. “That’s letting your own people down, that’s lying to your own people.” …

Scarborough questioned Zimmer’s waiting to make the allegations, and said that, if it had been him, he would have brought the issue to the attention of a state or U.S. attorney.

“He’s either a corrupt thug that she’s saying he is . . . or he’s a great guy — if she’s willing to go public and vouch for something that is corrupt, what does that say about her character?” he said. “She can’t have it both ways.”

Not even on MSNBC, it seems.