Chris Christie’s deputy, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, has denied claims that they threatened to withhold disaster funds from Hoboken, a New Jersey city hit by Superstorm Sandy.
New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno told reporters the accusation was “wholly and completely false”.
Hoboken’s mayor alleges she was told her city could lose out on federal money unless she backed a real estate project favored by Governor Chris Christie.
It is the latest claim of corruption to hit the Republican governor.
Chris Christie is often tipped as the party’s top contender to take back the White House in 2016. According to some pollsters, he is one of the only Republicans who could beat Democrat Hillary Clinton, if she decided to run for president.
But communications made public earlier this month suggest Chris Christie’s senior staff orchestrated traffic gridlock in an act of political retaliation against another mayor who refused to endorse the governor’s re-election.
Separately, federal officials are investigating whether Chris Christie misused recovery funds in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to finance an advertising campaign during an election year.
Then on Saturday, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said that Lt Gov Kim Guadagno had approached her in a car park in May last year and told her recovery funds would be disbursed to her city on condition she approved a property development by the New York-based Rockefeller Group.
The mayor – who has offered to take a lie-detector test or testify under oath about her claims – recalled Lt Gov Kim Guadagno saying that it was “a direct message from the governor”.
But at Monday morning’s event in Union Beach, New Jersey, Lt Gov Kim Guadagno said that as a victim herself of Superstorm Sandy she found the Hoboken mayor’s allegations “particularly offensive”.
“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined,” she said.
“Any suggestion, any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.”
A spokesman for Chris Christie issued a statement late on Saturday denying the alleged political strong arm tactics.
Hoboken, a low-lying city across the Hudson River from New York City, was inundated with flood waters when Sandy struck in October 2012. Chris Christie’s handling of the recovery effort greatly boosted his popularity.
The city received $342,000 out of an initial $1.8 billion of federal aid distributed by the state, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said. Another rollout of funding is due to disburse $1.4 billion.
The Hoboken mayor said at the weekend that she had decided to speak out now in the hope that her city would not lose out on the second tranche of aid, and because she thought no-one would have believed her beforehand.
The Rockefeller Group has denied the claims, which relate to plans for a 40-storey office tower and commercial development in Hoboken.
[youtube kgtXpeYoPaE 650]