Feature

New Christie allegation

Did a top aide to the New Jersey governor tie Hurricane Sandy relief funds to the approval of a development proposal in the city of Hoboken?

Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations by the mayor of Hoboken that a top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless she withdrew her opposition to a politically connected development proposal in her city. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno of delivering the threat. Zimmer met with the U.S. attorney investigating Christie’s use of Sandy funds, turning over a personal diary to corroborate her charge. Guadagno strongly denied Zimmer’s allegation.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate merged their inquiries into the George Washington Bridge lane closings orchestrated by Christie officials for political payback. Christie hired pit-bull defense attorney Randy Mastro to conduct an “internal review,” and handle the state and federal investigations.

President Chris Christie? “Fuggedaboutit,” said John Kass in the Chicago Tribune. Christie epitomizes “cult of personality” politics. Now that Tough Gov has gone rancid, Christie is trotting out a new persona: the contrite public servant who was shockingly betrayed. But when those entrance lanes to the bridge were mysteriously closed for four days, amid gloating emails by Christie’s cronies, how come it never “dawned on Gov. Muscle that someone in his administration was muscling somebody?”

Christie might yet survive these investigations, said Scott Conroy in RealClearPolitics.com. Democratic state legislators are already gleefully speculating that Christie made an “impeachable offense,” and if their investigation looks like “a partisan grudge match,” the public may yet rally behind the governor. Christie’s survival may hinge on “Democrats overplaying their hand.”

Christie’s presidential aspirations may be the least of his worries, said Jeff Smith in Politico.com. Federal prosecutors don’t need much to secure a grand jury indictment, and “there’s no bigger scalp than the nation’s most powerful governor.’’ Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, whose email asking for “traffic problems” in Fort Lee triggered Bridgegate, is a divorced mother of four who’s unlikely to go to jail to protect her old boss. She just dumped her lawyer, a longtime Christie ally. Uh-oh.

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