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N.J. lawmakers to look into claim Christie held Sandy relief 'hostage'

  |   Jan. 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM
HOBOKEN, N.J., Jan. 18 (UPI) -- New Jersey lawmakers investigating the so-called Bridgegate scandal say they will look into a claim Gov. Chris Christie conditioned disaster relief on politics.

Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Dawn Zimmer said Saturday Christie used Superstorm Sandy relief as a "hostage" to get her to approve a development project.

Zimmer said on MSNBC's "UP w/ Steve Kornacki" Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told her approval of plans of the Rockefeller Group was "very important to the governor."

"The bottom line is, it's not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the City of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer," she said. "... I know it's very complicated for the public to really understand all of this, but I have a legal obligation to follow the law, to bring balanced development to Hoboken."

Hoboken was devastated by Sandy, with 80 percent of the city underwater. Zimmer said the city got about 1 percent of the aid it requested.

Two state legislators investigating a scandal involving lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, connecting Fort Lee, N.J., with New York, said they will look into Zimmer's allegation, the Star-Ledger reported Saturday.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski -- chairman of an Assembly committee that has issued 20 subpoenas to Christie administration officials and to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said he will "have a conversation with our special counsel."

"Clearly the story I heard this morning was concerning, because it speaks to another abuse of power and goes back to the Port Authority. But I want to hear the facts," he said.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg said she plans to look into the Hoboken mayor's allegation as well, the newspaper said.

Zimmer, a Democrat, was elected after her predecessor was indicted on federal charges in a massive corruption case that began when Christie was U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

She told MSNBC she had long been a Christie supporter, despite her party affiliation.

"My beloved governor who wants to run for President. I cannot understand it. Why is he so concerned about [Rockefeller]? What has he promised them? What have they promised him? I cannot figure it out but I have no option but to stand up to him," she wrote in a personal diary entry she showed MSNBC.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak pointed to her past support in his response to MSNBC, saying she had been "effusive" in praise of the assistance Hoboken had received: "What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is anyone's guess."

"I'd be more than willing to testify under oath and -- and answer any questions and provide any documents, take a lie detector test," Zimmer said. "And, you know, my question back to them is, 'Would all of you?"

A spokesman for the Rockefeller Group said in a statement: "We have no knowledge of any information pertaining to this allegation. If it turns out to be true it would be deplorable."

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