The former Michigan governor in office when one of the worst environmental disasters poisoned a predominately Black city’s water supply will be criminally charged for his role, according to a new report.
Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, who was in office during what’s become known as the Flint Water Crisis, was expected to be indicted for his role in the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 and 2015. There may be others facing charges, as well. At least 12 people were killed by the tainted water.
The Associated Press reported the news Tuesday after speaking with several anonymous sources, so the extent of the charges was not immediately clear. However, the AP said it can confirm that an indictment was coming “soon.”
“The governor had adequate legal authority to intervene by demanding more information from agency directors, reorganizing agencies to assure availability of appropriate expertise where needed, ordering state agencies to respond, or ultimately firing ineffective agency heads,” according to a 2018 report from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “But he abjured, either due to ignorance or willful neglect of duty.”
The report definitively stated that Snyder “bears significant legal responsibility.”
Two years after the water crisis first hit, Snyder refused to replace the corroded lead pipes that helped causes the disaster. Snyder left office in 2018 because his two terms were up.
Amazingly, even with Snyder’s well-documented involvement and alleged culpability for the Flint Water Crisis, he was still able to land an enviable job with Harvard University last year. He was named a “senior research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government,” according to a press release. Harvard specifically mentioned what it called Snyder’s “significant expertise in management, public policy, and promoting civility.”
Last year, Flint prosecutors executed search warrants on Snyder by seizing his cellphone in what the New York Times said “signaled that prosecutors examining the Flint water crisis in recent months have been scrutinizing” him.
But the prosecutors at the time ended up dropping all criminal charges against eight former state government officials because of malfeasance from the first round of investigations into what the Associated Press described as “a man-made health emergency after lead from old pipes leached into drinking water in 2014 and 2015 due to a lack of corrosion-control treatment following a change in the water source while the financially strapped city was under state emergency management.”
Seven other former government officials were granted deals from previous prosecutors and, like Snyder, avoided any legal repercussions.