Dems renew subpoena request for Snyder’s Flint records

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Democrats on the U.S. House committee that investigated Flint’s water crisis in 2016 are asking again for the Republican-led panel to continue its work with a renewed focus on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and three emergency financial managers he appointed.

Last month, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, ended the panel’s Flint probe in two letters that concluded the Flint water crisis resulted from failures at all levels of government, including a federal regulatory framework “so outdated it sets up states to fail.”

Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, in December blasted Chaffetz for “prematurely” closing the investigation and renewed his call for a subpoena for Snyder’s records.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Chaffetz, Democrats including Cummings and Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield asked again that the committee chairman seek “key documents (Snyder) has been withholding from the Committee for the past year, including evidence relating to his destruction of emails.”

In late December, Snyder’s office said it gave the committee hundreds of thousands of pages of records and “complied fully,” and that it would be unproductive to engage in “partisan political attacks from out-of-state politicians.”

In addition to wanting a committee vote on issuing a subpoena for Snyder’s records, Democrats want the U.S. Department of Justice of the incoming Trump administration to consider criminal charges against former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley, Gerald Ambrose and Edward Kurtz, according to the letter.

Michigan Attorney General already has filed state criminal charges against Earley and Ambrose, including misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty, false pretense and conspiracy to commit false pretense. Kurtz has not been charged.

In Tuesday’s letter, Cummings and Lawrence challenged Chaffetz for saying last year he wanted to find out “who knew what and when and what did they do.”

“Unfortunately, prematurely closing the investigation last month without obtaining key documents and hearing from dozens of officials contradicts this promise,” according to the letter. “We ask you to reconsider your decision.”

The letter also references unanswered questions about Snyder’s actions, including “why he did not act on concerns about water quality even while his inner circle sounded repeated alarms, and why families in Flint continue to subsist on bottled water almost a year after he declared an emergency.”

In their letter to Chaffetz, Cummings and Lawrence wrote:

■Ambrose may have misled the committee about his motivations for wanting Flint not to reconnect with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department in 2015.

■Earley may have misled the committee when he testified that he did not receive a pertinent communication from Detroit Water and Sewerage as emergency manager.

■Kurtz may have misled the committee when he said he never made the decision to use the Flint River as a water source — a statement contradicted by former Mayor Dayne Walling.

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