Kwame Kilpatrick letter weighs in on Flint water

Joel Kurth
The Detroit News
View Comments

A letter attributed to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is making the rounds on social media, claiming Gov. Rick Snyder is “being misleading at best” about the Flint water crisis.

“I wonder how much time you get for knowingly & actually delivering unsafe, dangerous, and poisonous drinking water to the people you represent?” the message reads.

The letter began appearing on Facebook and other sites late last week. It claims state officials have known of problems with the Flint water system for at least 11 years.

Snyder is under fire for the discovery of lead in the city’s drinking water. Flint switched its water supply in 2014 as part of a cost-saving measure while under emergency management. Tests showed unsafe levels of lead last year, but the state did not declare an emergency until this month.

Kilpatrick, 45, is in El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma City, serving 28 years after his 2013 conviction for racketeering and other charges during his term as mayor. His appellate attorney, Harold Gurewitz, said he didn’t know if Kilpatrick wrote the note.

Kilpatrick’s former brother-in-law and longtime friend Daniel Ferguson III told The News that Kilpatrick sent the letter from prison.

“Those are his words,” Ferguson wrote on a message through Twitter.

The letter was released on a Facebook group of Kilpatrick supporters. It claims that Detroit officials “were talking about the problems of the Flint Water Department (financial management, ability to perform, cleanliness of water, elimination of contaminants, mercury levels, lead levels) back in 2004.”

Flint had purchased water from Detroit until it voted to join the Karegondi Water Authority in 2013. It stopped buying water from Detroit the next year and began drawing water from the Flint River, as it awaited completion of a regional pipeline from Lake Huron.

The letter attributed to Kilpatrick claims Detroit tried to create a deal to help Flint as long ago as 2006, but it was rejected by local officials.

Snyder has said he wasn’t aware of the positive tests for lead until this fall. The Facebook letter says that’s dubious.

“When the current Governor of Michigan says that he ‘only recently was made aware of this issue,’ he is being misleading at best,” the letter reads.

“But more than likely, he is being viciously, aggressively, and deliberately untruthful. I pray that the truth comes out. That’s what everyone in Michigan wants right? The Truth! Well, my prayer is that you all will have an opportunity to warm yourselves at the fire of Truth.”

Snyder’s spokesman, Dave Murray, released a statement saying “we are focused entirely on helping the people of Flint and making sure they get the assistance they need now and long into the future.”

“We’re grateful that some people are stepping up to be part of the solution,” Murray’s statement read. “Comments from people not actively working toward a solution can only serve as a distraction.”

View Comments