2014-01-21 03:01 AM
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- The administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday strongly denied a claim that Superstorm Sandy relief funding was withheld from a severely flooded city because the mayor wouldn't sign off on a politically connected real estate venture.
The claims are the latest allegations against the popular governor and rising star in the Republican party who is often cited as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno called Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's claims "false" and "illogical" at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration in Union City, the day before Gov. Chris Christie's second-term inauguration.
Federal authorities and state legislators are already investigating another scandal involving the Christie administration -- allegations that the governor's top aides orchestrated traffic jams in a northern New Jersey town by blocking off lanes to the George Washington Bridge, possibly to punish the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor for re-election.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the former chairman of the state Democratic Party who is leading a legislative probe, said the new allegations may be part of a pattern of abuses of power in the Christie administration and would be treated seriously.
Republicans called the investigation partisan and called on Wisniewski to step down. Wisniewski said the investigation by his bipartisan panel would continue.
The lieutenant governor did not take questions Monday.
Zimmer, a Democrat, met with investigators from the U.S. attorney's office for several hours Sunday afternoon and gave them journal entries she said were made at the time of the conversation. She has also offered to take a lie-detector test or testify under oath.
Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable, a member of Christie's cabinet and a second official who Zimmer said repeated the Sandy threat at a separate event in May, also issued a statement denying the mayor's claims.
Associated Press Writer Angela Delli Santi contributed to this report.