Earley to testify in Flint water crisis, attorney says

Kim Kozlowski and Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has accepted a subpoena to testify before Congress later this month regarding the Flint water crisis, his attorney said Thursday.

“We feel for the people of Flint,” said attorney A. Scott Bolden. “We want to be cooperative. We want to get to the bottom of what happened.”

A subpoena was served to Earley on Thursday, according to M.J. Henshaw, press secretary for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

A deposition date was scheduled for Feb. 25, Bolden said.

Earley refused to testify at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, leading the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to call on U.S. marshals to “hunt him down and serve him that subpoena.”

A day earlier, Bolden had refused service of a subpoena for Earley. That same day, Earley and Gov. Rick Snyder announced he would step down from his post at DPS on Feb. 29.

Bolden said he refused the subpoena because of the short notice — 12 to 14 hours — his client was given to testify. He said Thursday he was happy the committee issued a new subpoena for an appearance Feb. 25.

“This gives us time to view documents and prepare so the information we share is accurate and complete,” he said. “These are not easy issues. There are a lot of complex issues that the committee will be interested in hearing.”

Earley oversaw Flint’s drinking water supply as the state-appointed emergency manager when it was switched to the Flint River in April 2014.

Bolden said the decision to switch the city’s water supply was made before his client was appointed emergency manager.

In an Oct. 26, 2015, commentary in The Detroit News, Earley wrote that the 2013 decision to switch Flint from the Detroit water system to a new regional water authority was “part of a long-term plan” that was also backed by then-Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz, Flint’s mayor, city council and Genesee Drain commissioner.

“It did not fall to me to question, second guess or invalidate the actions taken prior to my appointment,” he wrote.

KKozlowski@detroitnews.com