Mayor Zimmer asks City Council to allow City land use attorney to testify on SandyGate
In the latest pivotal twist to SandyGate, Mayor Dawn Zimmer is asking the Hoboken City Council this week to release a lawyer from attorney-client privilege she consulted on the same day of her conversation with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
The revelation Mayor Zimmer spoke with a City attorney the same day as a controversial conversation with the Lt. Governor outside the Hoboken Shoprite may prove signifiant in a dispute over what was said between the parties.
The request to the council comes on the back of the mayor's allegations last January where she alleged a quid pro quo by members of the Christie administration for a billion dollar development proposal in Hoboken's northwest by the Rockefeller Group in exchange for Hurricane Sandy aid.
The bombshell development comes with the mayor issuing a resolution for Wednesday night's council meeting to allow Hoboken land use attorney Joseph Maraziti to testify in the ongoing federal investigation on SandyGate by the US Attorneys Office.
Over months since she first made her allegations, Mayor Zimmer has faced severe criticism for writing as critics have claimed solely to "her diary" and not telling others about the alleged encounter with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
The US Attorneys Office however immediately followed the allegations and began its own investigation last January. The mayor and her administration have been relatively silent but stated members of her staff and some council members were told of the incident going back to last summer.
Councilman Dave Mello previously confirmed he was one among a handful told of the mayor's encounter with the Lt. Governor last summer. The mayor sharing similar and timely details of her conversation with the Lt. Governor to others may prove pivotal to the credibility of her claims.
On Sunday, news show "Up with Steve Kornicki" telecast the potentially explosive development writing on its news page:
Zimmer’s communications director, Juan Melli, says that Zimmer contemporaneously spoke with Maraziti about the conversation she had with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno on May 13, in which Zimmer claims the lieutenant governor told her the development was tied to Sandy relief funds and “you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you.” Guadagno has firmly denied this allegation as “false” and “illogical.”
The Sunday story follows an internal report the end of last week by the governor's office countering both BridgeGate and SandyGate. That report was met with skepticism for both its cost (a million dollar fee) and the integrity it arrived at the report's conclusions. The interviews weren't conducted under oath and many parties central to both BridgeGate and SandyGate played no role.
The mayor's administration declined to participate in the governor's internal investigation and she released a statement decrying the state report as a "whitewash" Friday while again offering to testify under oath.
The 360 state page report may also have been helpful to the mayor confirming the Lt. Governor had been with Governor Christie the previous night preceding the conversation in the Hoboken A&P parking lot. That detail is secondary but one component in the mayor's alleged conversation with the Lt. Governor.
Also on Sunday, the state report conducted by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was reported to be the second highest paid by the NJ Attorney General's Office receiving $3.1 million in 2013 in a Sunday Star Ledger story.
Last May, Mariziti communicated in an email he was facing a "full court press" about the Rockefeller project from Wolff & Samson head David Samson and former NJ DCA director Lori Grifa who left the Christie Administration to become a lobbyist for the law firm.
MSV will have more on these breaking developments.
Talking Ed Note: MSV has focused little on this blockbuster story since the US Attorneys Office announced its federal investigation. Since then, there's been lots of wild attacks and accusations. Most recently over the weekend, the Hudson Reporter released a story depicting as controversial Mayor Zimmer's communications with the governor's office leading into the November election.
The inference being the mayor is somehow inconsistent has never added up since she is a mayor of one among hundreds of NJ municipalities and requires good relations with the state executive, especially before a critical second round of Sandy aid is issued. Equally important, the mayor and every pol in the state knew very well Governor Christie was being re-elected and the only question was by how large a margin.
Wednesday night's council meeting should see approval for the resolution freeing the City's land use attorney to testify and answer questions in the federal investigation. That is as long as all five votes likely to vote yes on the reasonable proposal are available.
If not, you can anticipate a rejection by the Old Guard Council of No members. Short of that, Mr. Mariziti will likely become a witness for the US Attorneys Office.
The full Sunday report from Steve Kornicki with video is available at:
Update: Today's story has also hit the Star Ledger and is the top story on the homepage of NJ.com.