Democratic mayor, eyewitness to alleged Christie strongarming: Nope, didn't hear it

As Ed wrote this morning and Guy Benson has covered exhaustively all weekend, the allegations mounted by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on MSNBC now amount to several diary entries and a bunch of holes.

First, the central question. Did Hoboken get fewer Sandy funds than it needed or deserved? Are there actual damages to which one might tie this alleged political corruption? The original MSNBC report played fast and loose with the numbers to leave that impression, but the reality is Hoboken got millions in relief funds, but perhaps not in the exact amounts Zimmer was requesting. Guy Benson:

The original MSNBC story leaves the distinct impression that the city received less than $350,000 in aid out of a $127 million request. In fact, Christie’s office points out, Hoboken has benefited from nearly $70 million in federal and state recovery and relief funding — which they say is commensurate with aid received by similarly situated municipalities. They emphasize that not a single grant application from Hoboken was denied. MSNBC’s report, Christie aides say, conflated total aid with the much narrower issue of “hazard mitigation” funds. They concede that Zimmer did, in fact, request more than $100 million in hazard mitigation assistance — which at the time accounted for more than one-third of the entire available budget allocated for that purpose.

Her story has changed. First, it was that Christie withheld Sandy funds because she didn’t endorse him, according to this New Jersey reporter:

In the second version of the story, the retaliation is over a development deal.

Zimmer waited almost a year to reveal the Christie administration’s alleged strongarming, leaving it hidden even as he ran for reelection.

She tweeted awfully nice things in August about a guy who had allegedly threatened her city:

Some of the alleged strongarming took place on a TV set, with Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable, where no audio or video of the conversation was captured. Now, one of the eye witnesses to that encounter, a fellow Democratic mayor, says no such thing went down.

Zimmer, a Democrat, stuck by her story Sunday. She said her conversation with Constable occurred May 16 at Monmouth University prior to their appearance as panelists on a TV event produced by NJTV.

NJTV doesn’t have any pre-broadcast audio records from that event, said Debra Falk, a spokeswoman.

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, who also was a panelist, said he didn’t hear a conversation between Zimmer and Constable.

“I sat next to Mayor Zimmer and, if I recall correctly, (Constable) was on my other side,” Doherty said.

Doherty, also a Democrat, said Belmar hasn’t faced delays in receiving recovery money.

“The administration has always been cooperative and professional and encouraged us to contact them right away if there’s anything we need,” Doherty said.

Zimmer brought her story to light on MSNBC on Saturday and in an interview on CNN said the alleged quid pro quo offer from the high-ranking administration was “a direct message from the governor.”

If Christie’s not your 2016 cup of tea, fine. If it turns out he did know about Bridgegate after claiming not to, he’s in serious trouble. Plenty can oppose him for either of those reasons, but until Zimmer has something more than her own diary entries, which contradict eye witnesses and her own tweets, this should not be the story that turns anyone against him.