January 18, 2014

This stunning Steve Kornacki story, if it holds up, may nail the coffin shut on Christie's presidential ambitions. We're beginning to see a credible pattern of punishing constituents to get back at elected officials who don't go along with Christie's wishes, and that is a very big deal:

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with MSNBC.

Chris Christie hugs Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Credit: Hobokenhorse

The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported.

“It’s not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the city of Hoboken” because he wants support for one private developer, she said Saturday on UP w/ Steve Kornacki.Constable and Christie – through spokespersons – deny Zimmer’s claims.

“Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of the Governor’s Office and the assistance we’ve provided in terms of economic development and Sandy aid,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak wrote in a statement. “What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is anyone’s guess.”

But Zimmer’s statements and documentation suggest that Christie’s administration – hailed for what seemed like a heroic response to Hurricane Sandy – in fact refused to help some of the neediest.

Zimmer’s interview comes on the heels of a scandal in which other members of Christie’s inner circle conspired to create huge traffic swells, possibly in an act of political retribution, on another New Jersey town on the outskirts of Manhattan.

Christie, who sailed to re-election last year and has made no secret of his presidential ambitions, has denied any knowledge of the plot that shut down lanes at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, one of the most heavily trafficked in the country. His office and several former senior aides are currently the subject of a number of federal and state inquiries into what has become known as “Bridge-gate.”

In this account – supported by email, public records and Zimmer’s own diary entries – Christie’s inner circle was willing to cut off devastated constituents, muscle a friendly mayor and arrange public funds to finance a study for a project the governor supported.In a news conference last week, Christie rejected the notion that his administration engages in retribution or seeks political payback. Zimmer’s account paints a different portrait.

Zimmer claims they leaned on her twice to get their way. By the second encounter, Zimmer said – this time with Constable – the 45-year-old mayor and mother of two young children was despondent, according to her own notes.

“I was emotional about governor Christie,” she wrote in a diary entry she provided that is dated May 17, 2013. “I thought he was honest. I thought he was moral. I thought he was something very different. This week I found out he’s cut from the same corrupt cloth that I have been fighting for the last four years.”

Go watch the rest of the interview here, it's devastating.

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