An analysis published Monday in the wake of allegations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) found “multiple irregularities” in Hurricane Sandy relief funds handed out by the sate.
The analysis by WNYC, NJ Spotlight, and New Jersey Public Radio came after Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer said members of Christie’s administration had threatened to withhold Sandy funds from her city unless she approved a real estate project.
The analysis found Hoboken received less storm relief than smaller cities that had less damage, a finding NJ Spotlight’s Scott Gurian noted “could lend credence to Zimmer’s claim.”
The report specifically analyzed the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Energy Allocation Initiative, which is at the center of Zimmer’s allegations. It found Hoboken had received $142,080 from the program. That’s less, for instance, than the city of Nutley, which got $556,000 and was described by Gurian as having been “relatively unscathed” by the storm.
Christie administration officials have denied political factors played a role in the distribution of Sandy aid and pointed to approximately $70 million Hoboken and its residents received after the storm. However, the new analysis noted that money largely “came directly from the federal government” and “was aimed at individuals and business owners rather than at Hoboken’s city government.”
In spite of these findings, Gurian said the analysis found nothing that conclusively confirms Zimmer’s accusation.
“There is no proof at this point that politics necessarily played a role in state decisions about who got help and who did not in the aftermath of Sandy,” he wrote.
An official from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection responded to questions about the analysis from NJ Spotlight. According to Gurian, the official insisted aid applications were reviewed through a proper, objective process. The official also noted the process was ongoing and some of the aid might still be adjusted.