TODAY   |  January 19, 2014

Mayor claims Christie team withheld Sandy funds

Legislative leaders in New Jersey, who've already served Gov. Chris Christie's office with 20 subpoenas, say they may now expand their probe to look at allegations Christie withheld relief money from Hurricane Sandy. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>>> story. governor chris christie getting hit once again with accusations of using his office to get rejeng on political opponents. michael itzkoff is following all this for us from washington. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. legislative leaders in new jersey who already served christie 's office with 20 subpoenas say they may now expand their probe to look at new allegations christie withheld relief money from hurricane sandy when one mayor refused to play ball . governor chris christie continues his weekend swing through florida this morning while he faces fresh charges back home of political retribution.

>> i remember telling my inner circle , i can't believe this. i just received a direct threat from the governor of the state of new jersey.

>> reporter: dawn zimmer , mayor of hoboken from new york city , says last may last may, the lieutenant governor made the threat in the parking lot saying it's very important to the governor that she back a billion dollar development project or we are not going to be able to help you with funds to rebuild from hurricane sandy.

>> she said, i know these things should not be connected, but they are. if you tell anybody, i'll deny it.

>> reporter: zimmer says she couldn't believe it.

>> i'm stunned that he would use the sandy funds and hold those sandy funds over my head when you consider what happened to hoboken , we were devastated.

>> reporter: e-mails obtained by cnbc show the project is represented by the law firm of david sampson , one of christie 's top political advisers who chairs the port authority and who this week was subpoenaed by a legislative panel investigating the george washington traffic jams.

>> the connection we can make is the project is represented by wolf and sampson and sampson is very close to chris christie . there's no evidence to suggest that sampson and christie are conspiring.

>> reporter: zimmer says hoboken received only $342 million of the $100 million it requested. she didn't speak out at the time. christie aides shot back calling the charges outlandishly false and noting zimmer praised the governor last august, writing in this tweet, to be clear, i'm very glad governor christie has been our gov. christie spokesman says it's very clear partisan politics are at play as democratic mayors with a political ax to grind come out of the woodwork. in his response today, christie 's spokesman says governor christie and his entire administration have been helping hoboken get the help they need with the city already being approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid and is targeted to get more when the obama administration approves the next rounds of funding. a spokesman for david sampson 's law firm says in a statement, its conduct in representing the development project is appropriate in all respects. one other point, the christie camp is slamming msnbc for its coverage as well, calling it openly hostile to the government.

>> michael itzkoff, thank you.