Schuette: Lyon, Wells should resign over Flint charges

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit— Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday called for two top state officials to resign after his legal team filed criminal charges against them in an investigation of Flint’s water crisis.

Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office, while the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. The charges are related to state health department’s failure to issue a public alert about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the Flint area in 2014-15 that resulted in 12 deaths and 79 other illnesses.

Despite Gov. Rick Snyder’s vow to stand behind Lyon and Wells and keep them on the job, Schuette told The Detroit News editorial board it would be “proper” for them to step down.

“We charged those individuals with serious crimes,” Schuette said.

Snyder said in statement Wednesday that Lyon and Wells “are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” and “continue to be instrumental in Flint’s recovery.”

At the editorial board meeting, Schuette was asked why he left a cloud over Snyder when he said at a Wednesday news conference there was no probable cause to file criminal charges against Snyder “at this time.”

The attorney general said he wanted to clarify the situation involving the governor. “There was no intent to have any cloud (hanging) over anyone” who hasn’t been charged in the Flint water investigation, he said.

But the attorney general said “Our investigation will continue” even as his legal team switches to the trial phase of the probe after having charged 15 current and former state and Flint officials with crimes and misdemeanors. The team will continue to review any new evidence it receives, Schuette said.

The attorney general said Wednesday that he hadn’t been able to get an interview with Snyder, prompting the governor’s counsel to say Snyder had agreed to be interviewed by the attorney general’s team under oath but didn’t receive a requested investigative subpoena.

Schuette wouldn’t say Thursday whether his team still would like to interview Snyder. “We have no plans to issue a subpoena today,” he said.

But Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said Friday the Flint legal team still would like to interview the governor.

Schuette also dismissed any notion that his involvement in the Flint water probe was political as the 2018 campaign nears.

“I don’t care about the politics,” said Schuette, who is weighing a bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. “My job is to enforce the law. Those who say this is politically motivated, that is just absolute nonsense.”


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