Meet the Rockefeller Group: The Real Estate Company At the Eye of NJ's Political Storm
The company at the center of a growing controversy in Hoboken, New Jersey that is fueling Governor Chris Christie’s woes is a major political player that spreads around campaign cash. Talking Points Memo’s Hunter Walker details how the Rockefeller Group spends money on both parties, though most of the cash goes to Republicans.
The politically connected real estate group has spent more than $70,000 on both parties, including $2,500 to Christie. Of their 21 donations, 16 went to Republicans for a total of $40,500. $37,000 went to Democrats. Rockefeller employees also dole out cash, with Christie receiving money from two executives.
While the money has gone to both parties, the real estate company now finds itself in the middle of a partisan controversy over the Christie administration punishing political opponents. In this case, the issue is the alleged pressure on the Hoboken mayor over a real estate development project Rockefeller was pushing.
Over the weekend, MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki broke a story by interviewing the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, who said that she was pressured by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable. The Rockefeller Group’s eyes have been set on a multi-million dollar development project. Guadagno and Constable allegedly withheld Hurricane Sandy relief money from Zimmer because she did not approve the development.
“The bottom line is, it’s not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the City of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer,” Zimmer told Kornacki on his MSNBC show.
Zimmer only received about $342,000, instead of the $127 million she wanted in the aftermath of Sandy, which devastated Hoboken.
The Rockefeller Group owns the land where the project is set to be built, and is represented by a law firm founded by a close ally of Christie. In addition, as the New York Times notes, a study of the redevelopment project “had been paid for with $75,000 from the Port Authority, whose deputy executive director at the time was a Christie appointee, Bill Baroni.” The study concluded that three blocks out of 19 in question should be developed--and all the lots in those groups were owned by Rockefeller. Ron Hine, the director of Fund for a Better Waterfront, a Hoboken advocacy group, told the Times that it looked like the company was getting “special treatment.”
The allegations from Zimmer lead to a meeting between the mayor and a federal prosecutor. The federal government is already looking into the allegations that the Christie administration punished the mayor of Fort Lee over his refusal to endorse the governor’s re-election.