New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) met in September with a key executive for a development company at the center of the latest allegations hitting his administration.
The allegations were lodged by Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who said that the Christie administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid from her city unless she approved a development planned for a lot owned by the company.
In a photo first surfaced Tuesday by the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper, Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, were shown standing alongside Rockefeller Group Executive Vice President Leslie Smith at an event last September.
The company is represented by a law firm founded by a close Christie ally, and Smith leads Rockefeller Group’s development efforts in New Jersey.
The photo was taken at a Sept. 26, 2013 gala where the Christies were honored by Daytop New Jersey, a substance abuse treatment and education program. According to his biography on the Rockefeller Group website, Smith serves on Daytop’s executive committee. Neither the governor’s office or Rockefeller Group responded to questions from TPM about Smith’s meeting with Christie.
TPM first reported Monday that Smith has donated $2,000 to Christie since 2009. As a company, Rockefeller Group has also given more than $70,000 to New Jersey candidates and committees.
When asked about the donations Monday, Rockefeller Group spokesman Dwayne Doherty said employees were permitted to make “personal donations,” but there is a “long-standing company policy that prohibits political contributions on behalf of the company.”
After being informed of the donations made in the company’s name, Doherty said he “was able to confirm that our corporate policy allows for corporate political contributions in special circumstances with prior authorization.” He said he would need until Tuesday to ” confirm what exactly they represented and whether they were in fact authorized.”
On Tuesday, Doherty said he would until Wednesday morning to “review the reasons the donations were exempted.” Doherty did not respond to a request for comment about the donations Wednesday.