Nightly News   |  January 20, 2014

Christie camp contests Hoboken mayor’s claims

Following Gov. Christie’s bridge scandal, a back-and-forth battle is brewing between his top aides and the mayor of another New Jersey town.

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>>> has now intensified surrounding a political scandal involving the administration of governor chris christie in new jersey. the latest development involves hoboken , new jersey. perhaps best known as the birthplace of frank sinatra . the mayor of hoboken is alleging she was given an ultimatum by the lieutenant governor to support a development project or lose out on hurricane sandy recovery funding. a charge the lieutenant governor today angrily denied. nbc's kelly o'donnell is in trenton for us again tonight.

>> reporter: today in union beach , new jersey's lieutenant governor, kim gud anno, joined volunteers at a rebuilding event. and she hammered at a new political crisis.

>> the suggestion that anyone would hold back sandy relief funds for any reason is wholly and completely false.

>> reporter: that allegation comes from hoboken mayor, democrat, dawn zimmer , who this weekend went on television and met with the u.s. attorney 's office. zimmer claims that last may, the lieutenant governor and another top official, richard constable, seen with the governor just last week, both told her relief funds would be held up unless zimmer backed a major commercial development .

>> she said, i know it's not right. i know these things should not be connected, but they are. and if you tell anyone, i'll deny it.

>> reporter: today, gad anno acknowledged a conversation, but --

>> i am very surprised by the mayor's allegations. and i deny wholeheartedly those allegations.

>> reporter: constable called zimmer 's allegations patently false and absurd. the lieutenant governor would not take questions, citing pending investigations.

>> why would she make these allegations, lieutenant governor?

>> reporter: reached today, zimmer says she is genuinely disappointed in guadano's response, but stands by her word. zimmer says hoboken only received $342,000 directly from the state. today in a conference call , a christie recovery official said the administration helped deliver $70 million in mostly federal aid to hoboken 's residents and businesses.

>> i'm scratching my head a little bit about, you know, any community that's getting the short end of the stick.

>> reporter: zimmer had requested an additional $95 million to prevent future storm damage , not sandy relief. the administration says that it's about one-third of what's available for the whole state. governor christie has given a new interview to yahoo! news, talking about his trouble, saying i'm going to learn from this. i can't tell you yet what it is i'm going to learn. but i intend to learn from this. this is all politically awkward, brian. tomorrow the governor and lieutenant governor take the oath of office to begin their second term. brian?

>> kelly o'donnell at the state capitol in trenton tonight, thanks.