Ex-Flint water spokesman paid to train state ag workers
A former spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality who resigned in the wake of the Flint water crisis provided media training this year for state employees, according to a contract obtained by Bridge Magazine.
Brad Wurfel is listed as “key personnel” in the three-year, $49,000 contract between the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Devleopment and Kandler Reed Khoury & Muchmore, a Lansing consulting firm where Wurfel served as director. KRKM partner Deb Muchmore also is listed as key personnel in the contract.
Wurfel resigned from the MDEQ in December 2015 after a state task force criticized the state’s “dismissive and disrespectful tone” to data from researchers outside of state government who discovered elevated levels of lead in Flint's water and the bloodstreams of the city's children.
Wurfel is no longer with KRKM, but launched his own “communications consultancy” in June, Muchmore said.
The firm secured a contract with the agriculture department earlier this year for media and communications workshops, Muchmore said. Wurfel participated in in the April and June workshops, the latter of which took place after he had left the firm.
“Any future workshops we provide will be delivered by KRKM, and without Brad’s role,” Muchmore said.
The first training in Frankenmuth was for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development staff, said spokeswoman Jennifer Holton, and the second in Grand Rapids was for local public health employees.
"KRKM has provided good service resulting in excellent feedback and has been well-received by attendees," Holton said in statement.
The Flint water crisis issue was part of a more than two-decade career in journalism and communications for Wurfel, his lawyer Michael J. Pattwell said in a statement Wednesday.
Throughout his career, Wurfel has provided training to hundreds of government employees, Pattwell said, and has emphasized the importance of "being clear, transparent and honest about work in the public sector."
"Because of pending court cases, Mr. Wurfel cannot discuss the details underlying the Flint Water Litigation other than to acknowledge that he learned some hard lessons in a difficult situation marked by surprises," Pattwell said.