Snyder: Charges take Flint crisis to ‘whole new level’
Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday described the filing of criminal charges against three government workers connected with Flint’s water issues as taking the crisis to a “whole new level.”
He spoke to the media in Lansing two hours after Attorney General Bill Schuette brought charges against two employees of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, as well as Flint’s utilities administrator. And more charges against others are expected.
Snyder said he has not been personally interviewed by the attorney general’s investigators but called Wednesday’s charges “deeply troubling” and “extremely serious.”
“As I have consistently said that a handful of bureaucrats had created a terrible situation in Flint from the beginning,” he said. “If these accusations are correct, this would take it to a whole new level. And one of the things we clearly want to pursue is the truth. The citizens of Michigan deserve it. The citizens of Flint deserve it.”
Busch had been under an investigation by the state for several months and was placed on paid leave back on Feb. 1. Snyder indicated Prysby will now also be included as part of that review. On Wednesday, DEQ Director Keith Creagh placed Busch and Prsyby on unpaid leave. Glasgow has been placed on administrative leave, according to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s office.DEQ District Engineer Michael Prysby faces six charges. Stephen Busch, DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water’s Lansing and Jackson district supervisor, faces a total of five charges. And Michael Glasgow, Flint’s utilities administrator, is facing two charges.
“We have some constraints on our actions due to civil service,” Snyder said.
The charges, a mixture of felonies and misdemeanors, stem from an investigation led by Schuette’s office into how Flint’s water system became tainted by toxic lead, setting a public health emergency that has roiled Snyder’s administration.
The contamination crisis in Flint has led to the resignation of the state Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and department spokesman Brad Wurfel.
Snyder also dismissed Liane Shekter Smith, former head of the DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance.
Asked if he believe he had done anything that amounted to a criminal offense, Snyder said: “I don’t even want to get into that kind of speculation. I don’t believe so.”
During his own news conference, Schuette repeatedly offered little information on his investigation and its interest in Snyder.
“There are no targets, and nobody’s been ruled out,” he said.
Snyder repeatedly expressed concern that all state employees would be painted with suspicion by the allegations against a few of their colleagues.
“I’m concerned how this could go over with 47,000 employees in the State of Michigan that are working hard every day to do good things,” he said.
“So I think it’s critically important that these investigations go forward, that as they find potential issues of wrongdoing that they be brought forward, that we go through the due diligence and due process of determining what actually happened, because people deserve the truth and deserve the answers.”