Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer Not Talking to Media
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has raised allegations that the office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie strong-armed her over a development project, is on a media hiatus.
Zimmer stated Wednesday that her blitz of media interviews on the topic is over for now.
“The U.S. Attorney’s office has asked that we not conduct additional media interviews and we are respecting their request,” reads the statement.
Zimmer did add that comments she made during interviews and through previous statements are still valid.
On Jan. 19, the mayor met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for several hours, and handed over her journal and some other documents.
Zimmer’s journal entries from May 2013 describe being pressured by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to support a Hoboken development project for the Rockefeller Group in exchange for Sandy recovery aid. The journal is considered key to her allegations.
“The Lieutenant Governor came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project,” a statement released on the same day reads in part.
Zimmer also said she is willing to testify under oath and to give any additional information that is requested.
On Jan. 20, after Guadagno denied the allegations, Zimmer said she was “genuinely disappointed.”
“Lieutenant Governor Guadagno has lived up to her promise that she would deny linking Hoboken’s application for Sandy hazard mitigation funding with expediting a private development project,” Zimmer said in a statement.
She has also implicated Commissioner Richard Constable of the Department of Community Affairs in the incident.
Lieutenant Governor’s Position
Guadagno, who is New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor, is also the secretary of state and is deeply involved in the state’s economic development. The dual roles and deep involvement with the state’s economy are not typical of such a position.
Though lieutenant governor’s roles and responsibilities vary by state, Guadagno’s additional roles are unusual.
She is chair of the Red Tape Review Commission, which reviews and reforms the state’s regulatory process for business and nonprofit groups. She also oversees promotion of the state’s $38 billion tourism industry and is in charge of state programs for the arts, culture, and history.
Guadagno also oversees the state’s comprehensive economic development strategy, called New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA).
Under the umbrella of the PFA, Guadagno also heads the Business Action Center, a single point of contact for the business community; the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, dubbed the state’s “bank for business;” and Choose New Jersey, an independently funded and operated nonprofit that works to bolster economic growth throughout New Jersey.
Not every state in the United States has a lieutenant governor, but those that do often put few official responsibilities on them. In Washington state, the lieutenant governor is president of the Senate and holds some other roles that are mostly ornamental.
“There’s an enormous variety in terms of how that office is carried out,” said Brigid Callahan Harrison, professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, who noted that in most states the lieutenant governor is an elected position in and of itself. But in New Jersey, the new role came with high expectations.
“Because this was a new position, this governor was breaking new ground in terms of defining the position,” said Harrison. “Her purview or responsibilities within the area of economic development might be strong, but I think many people anticipated that she’d have a far greater role than she’s actually had.”
Harrison said that Gov. Christie pointed to the lieutenant governor when he came to office as his point person on economic development and is well-liked by New Jersey’s business community. But in reality “she has done little else,” Harrison said.
Guadagno has a strong background in law and leadership positions, including a stint as the first woman sheriff elected in Monmouth County, N.J.
Yet, “It is really difficult for anyone to share the spotlight with Chris Christie,” Harrison said. “It became clear very early on that the administration did not view her as a full partner. Most New Jerseyans are not very familiar with her—it’s become kind of a running joke in the New Jersey media that there is never any press available for the lieutenant governor.”