New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration has strenuously denied Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allegations that she was told her city would only receive Sandy relief funds after she approved a private development supported by Christie. Zimmer has stuck by her story, however, and has met with the U.S. Attorney's Office. While there's no definitive proof yet of Zimmer's claim, two recent reports paint a picture of an administration that was always extremely interested in the Hoboken development sitting at the heart of the dispute.
Here's what you should know:
- A Wednesday New York Times article revealed that as far back as May of 2013, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was being pressured by Christie allies to approve the development in her city. According to the Times, Zimmer requested during the spring of last year funds and assistance from the Christie administration to combat severe flooding in Hoboken. But when she arrived for a scheduled meeting to discuss the matter, she found the item on the meeting's agenda was a “review of concepts for flood control measures at Rockefeller property" (The Rockefeller Group is the developer in question). Zimmer says she refused to talk about the property rather than flood control in her city, thinking it was inappropriate. It was only days later when Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno visited Zimmer and, according to Zimmer, told her she would only receive help after approving the Rockefeller project. As the Times puts it, "the development-wary mayor was coming under increasing and repeated pressure from politically connected lawyers working for Rockefeller Group and from the Christie administration."
- In the same vein, a Wall Street Journal report finds that a network of private and public actors, who all connect to Christie, have long been aggressively trying to make the Rockefeller development a reality. For example: Rockefeller is represented by David Samson, who just so happens to be a close Christie adviser as well as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Hoboken at one point was given a grant by the Port Authority for $75,000 to conduct a study of how the land in question should be developed. The Wall Street Journal says it "isn't clear" why this grant was necessary.
- Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Susana E. Guerrero has been chosen to lead the state's Ethics Commission, a job that grants oversight and executive decision-making powers regarding whether or not an ethics complaint gets an investigation. What makes this newsworthy? Guerrero used to work for the Christie administration — so she's being tasked to make judgments about ethics complaints that will potentially involve some of her former colleagues.