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Chris Christie tied aid to project, mayor says

TRENTON, N.J. — The Democratic mayor of a town severely flooded by Hurricane Sandy said Sunday she was told an ultimatum tying recovery funds to her support for a prime real estate project came directly from Governor Chris Christie’s office, a claim a Christie spokesman called ‘‘categorically false.’’

Hoboken’s mayor, Dawn Zimmer, told ABC’s ‘‘This Week’’ that the message pushing a Rockefeller Group commercial development was delivered by Christie’s lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, when the two were at an event in Hoboken in May to celebrate the opening of a supermarket.

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‘‘The lieutenant governor pulled me aside and said, essentially, ‘You’ve got to move forward with the Rockefeller project. This project is really important to the governor.’ And she said that she had been with him on Friday night and that this was a direct message from the governor,’’ Zimmer recalled Guadagno saying.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed issued a statement Sunday saying, ‘‘Mayor Zimmer’s categorization about her conversation in Hoboken is categorically false.’’

On Saturday, Zimmer said Guadagno and a top community development official separately told her that recovery funds would flow to her city if she expedited the project.

Hoboken, a low-lying city of 50,000 across from Manhattan, was nearly swallowed by the Hudson River during Sandy, with three of its electrical substations and most of its firehouses flooded, businesses and homes submerged, the train station inundated with water, and people trapped in high-rises because elevators did not work.

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