Six more state officials have been charged in connection with the Flint water crisis, taking the total to nine people facing criminal charges – however Governor Rick Snyder and senior staff continue to evade responsibility for the humanitarian disaster.
The scandal highlighted the state of America’s infrastructure crisis and worried parents across the nation due to the alarming levels of lead tested in children, while the government cover up prompted outrage.
Attorney General Bill Schuette vowed that “the families of Flint will not be forgotten; we will provide the justice they deserve,” while bringing new misconduct charges against three employees from the Department of Environmental Quality: Liane Shekter Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook. He also charged three officials from the Department of Health and Human Services: Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott.
“Their offences vary but there is an overall theme and repeated pattern,” Mr. Schuette told reporters on Friday. “Each of these individuals attempted to bury, or cover up, to downplay or hide information that contradicted their own narrative their story. Their story was there was nothing wrong with Flint water and it was perfectly safe to use.”
Peeler, Miller and Scott were charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.
Shekter Smith was charged with misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.
Cook is accused of misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and neglect of duty.
Rosenthal was charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and neglect.
The Last American Vagabond reports:
Schuette said Friday that his team was “way far from done”—offering a modicum of assurance to those seeking accountability from Snyder and other top officials.
And Andrew Arena, lead investigator in the case and former head of the FBI office in Detroit, added: “You don’t start at the top. Like organized crime, we are working our way up in the DEQ and expanding the scope of investigation.”
But Special Prosecutor Todd Flood may have eroded some of that confidence by declining to say at Friday’s press conference whether he has interviewed Snyder or the governor’s former top aide, Dennis Muchmore, or issued subpoenas to either man to compel testimony under oath in a deposition.
Gov. Snyder and his emergency manager have yet to be held accountable for creating the #FlintWaterCrisis
— Flint Rising (@FlintRising) July 29, 2016
Flint investigator says: You don't start at the top. Is he giving Snyder and emergency managers cover? #FlintWaterCrisis
— Progress Michigan (@ProgressMich) July 29, 2016
#FlintWaterCrisis Criminal charges for 6 state employees,but Snyder remains untouched,why when his cost cutting measures are to blame?
— Daniel J (@Roolbreaker1) July 29, 2016
Enough with the distractions, Mr. AG—charge Governor Snyder and let’s get this over with. The people of Flint are… https://t.co/lXfTto6FKZ
— Mitchell Robinson (@mrobmsu) July 29, 2016
“The charges filed today against six state employees involved in the Flint water crisis are a step in the right direction to ensure our government is accountable to its citizens,” the pro-democracy group Common Cause and its Michigan affiliate said in a statement on Friday.
“However, there is still a lack of transparency and accountability surrounding the crisis in Flint,” the statement continued. “Most of the questions involving the Flint water crisis and Gov. Snyder are still unanswered. The people of Flint, and the entire state of Michigan, deserve to know the full extent of Gov. Snyder’s involvement and knowledge of this crisis.”
Meanwhile, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told the Democratic National Convention this week that in her city, the “water is still not safe to drink or cook with from the tap. Our infrastructure is broken, leaking and rusting away. Our local economy, already down when the water crisis struck, struggles to rebound. And there are many more Flints across the country where environmental issues are hurting our kids and families.”
She specifically called out the “Republican state government” for using Michigan’s emergency manager law “to take over control of the city.”