The lieutenant governor of New Jersey strenuously denied allegations Monday that she threatened to withhold relief funds for Hurricane Sandy from Hoboken, N.J. unless the town’s mayor backed a development project favored by Gov. Chris Christie.
“The suggestion that anyone would hold back Sandy relief funds for any reason is wholly and completely false,” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said during an appearance in Union Beach, N.J. “I am very surprised by these allegations and I categorically deny these allegations.”
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Guadagno’s comments came two days after Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who had previously been effusive in her praise of Christie, claimed the Republican governor’s lieutenant had attempted to tie relief money to a development project. Zimmer, a Democrat, said Sunday that she met with a federal prosecutor about the matter. Christie’s office immediately denied her charge Saturday before Guadagno refuted it herself on Monday.
“Being a Sandy victim myself makes the mayor’s allegations particularly offensive to me,” she said. “I deny any suggestion made by Mayor Zimmer that there was ever any condition on the release of Sandy funds by me.”
Zimmer responded later Monday that she “stands by” her story and is “willing to testify under oath.”
Democrats have been emboldened in their efforts to paint Christie as a bully ever since it emerged his aides deliberately snarled traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. last year as apparent political retribution after the town’s mayor failed to endorse his re-election bid. Christie, a leading 2016 Republican presidential contender, has apologized for the traffic scandal and fired a top aide, but federal prosecutors and two state legislative committees continue to investigate the matter.