SANDYGATE UPDATE: State legislators won’t immediately look into Hoboken aid allegations, says report; Zimmer widens allegations to include 'Storm Czar'
Jan 22, 2014 | 2020 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TRENTON – The joint panel of New Jersey State Senators and Assemblymen investigating the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal will not immediately investigate allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that high-ranking officials in the administration of Gov. Christopher Christie threatened to withhold hurricane relief funding until Zimmer approved a development project with connections to Christie, according to the Star-Ledger.

State Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the panel’s co-chair, told the Ledger that he believed it is too soon to widen the scope of the investigation.

"Clearly she raises serious allegations," Wisniewski said. "There are a lot of facts swirling about in terms of who said what when. The first order of business for this committee is to follow the information we have to date, which is somebody in the governor’s office abusing power, and we see an attempt to cover up that abuse of power.”

Still, he said it would be “premature” to immediately begin looking into Zimmer’s claims.

"We’ll follow the trail wherever it leads," he said, "but we’re not going to switch gears now and start following another investigation."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s office, whom Zimmer said she met with on Sunday, has not yet said whether it will investigate her claims. They generally do not confirm or deny investigations. Prosecutors are already looking into the lane closures.

As for Zimmer, she recently widened her allegations against Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno and Dept. of Community Affairs commissioner Richard Constable, the Christie officials whom she alleged strong-armed her on the development deal, to include Marc Ferzan, the state’s “Storm Czar” who is handling the awarding of Sandy funds as head of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

On Monday night, Zimmer told CNN that Ferzan put pressure on her regarding the development deal at a meeting last month. The meeting was apparently to discuss what Sandy aid could be made available to Hoboken, but Zimmer said that Ferzan was more curious about her stance on development. Zimmer said that Ferzan told her to “let [her] know how much development [she’s] willing to do.”

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Ferzan said that Hoboken had received its fair share of Sandy aid, but did not address Zimmer’s allegations (it’s unclear if the conference call was prior to Zimmer’s appearance on CNN). A call for comment on Zimmer’s allegations was not returned. – Dean DeChiaro

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