Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder, his health director and other former officials face criminal charges in connection with the Flint water scandal.
The Michigan attorney general’s office has informed defense lawyers for the ex-governor and other former officials including his health director, about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon regarding the water scandal that devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water, and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15, reports the Associated Press.
Potential charges against Snyder and his associates have yet to be determined, but Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon, released a blistering statement Tuesday, saying a criminal prosecution would be “outrageous.”
Former Flint Public Works director Howard Croft also expects to be charged again. Up to 10 people are set to be indicted as soon as Thursday after Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office launched a new investigation in 2019, reports the Detroit News.
Snyder apologized for the catastrophe during his 2016 State of the State speech and said government at all levels had failed Flint.
LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who is credited with exposing the lead contamination, said she wants details about the charges. “The very fact that people are being held accountable is an amazing feat,” Walters said. “But when people’s lives have been lost and children have been severely hurt, it doesn’t seem like enough.”
The looming charges mean Snyder will face a high stakes legal battle over his administration’s handling of the scandal.
Snyder approved putting Flint into state emergency management and was responsible for the state’s response to the lead contamination. Baird oversaw Flint’s recovery effort, Lyon handled the state’s responses to the city’s public health problems and Croft was responsible for the city’s water problems.
The disaster thrust Flint into the national spotlight and resulted in congressional hearings where House Democrats demanded that Snyder resign. He apologized for the crisis but didn’t leave office until his term ended in 2018.
The outbreak was announced by Snyder and Lyon, director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, at a hastily called January 2016 press conference. Lyon conceded he knew cases were being reported months earlier.