Politics

Chris Christie visits Fla., dogged by N.J. scandal

Governor Chris Christie’s Florida trip was overshadowed by claims from the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat.
Reuters/File
Governor Chris Christie’s Florida trip was overshadowed by claims from the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat.

ORLANDO, Fla. — A swing through Florida proved no sunny retreat for Governor Chris Christie on Saturday, as well-organized protesters hounded him outside a Republican fund-raiser, a powerful ally in the New Jersey state Lesgislature rebuked the governor’s office, and new allegations emerged that his administration tried to intimidate a state official.

Christie’s trip, which was supposed to showcase his political resilience after the rockiest period of his governorship, was overshadowed by claims from the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat.

In a television interview Saturday, she said that two high-ranking aides to Christie had threatened to withhold money for Hurricane Sandy recovery to her hard-hit city if she did not support a real estate development that the governor wanted built in her jurisdiction.

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On MSNBC, she accused the administration of holding the recovery money “hostage,” and produced journal entries that she said documented conversations in which Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Richard E. Constable, the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, told her that if she wanted the money, she had to approve the project.

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Zimmer recalled documenting her disappointment in Christie the day of her meeting with Constable. “I thought he was something very different,” she wrote at the time. “This week I found out he’s cut from the same corrupt cloth that I have been fighting.”

Despite being almost entirely submerged during the hurricane, Hoboken has received a fraction of the recovery money it requested from the state, Zimmer said.

Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat and the president of the New Jersey Senate, who is a Christie ally, called the allegations “extremely disturbing’’ and promised an investigation.

In a statement, Christie’s office described its relationship with Zimmer as “productive” and said that she had been supportive of the governor.

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A spokesman for the governor, Colin Reed, denounced MSNBC as “a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Govenor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him.”