WUOMFM

Attorney General's plans to investigate Flint's water crisis facing criticism

Jan 15, 2016

There are questions being raised about Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s plans to investigate Flint’s water crisis.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Schuette issued a press release this morning announcing his decision to open an investigation into Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

“As attorney general, I will investigate this situation to determine if any Michigan laws have been broken,” said Schuette in a written statement. “Without fear or favor, I will carry out my responsibility to enforce the laws meant to protect Michigan families, and represent the citizens of Flint. 

The Attorney General’s office investigation isn’t the first into the crisis. The U.S. Justice Department is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on its own probe.

And not everyone thinks the Michigan Attorney General is the right agency to conduct an investigation into Flint’s water crisis. 

State Democratic Party leaders accuse Schuette of stonewalling efforts to learn more about Flint’s water crisis in the past. They want a special prosecutor to investigate. 

“Bill Schuette has disqualified himself from conducting a fair and honest investigation of the Snyder administration’s role in the Flint water crisis, plain and simple,” said Brandon Dillon, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.

Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely defended the Attorney General’s investigation. 

“Our focus in this investigation is to represent the residents of Flint and the rest of Michigan. We will do it the right way,” Bitely read from a prepared statement. “But trying to score political points off a tragic situation is absolutely shameful.”

But Democrats aren’t the only ones questioning the Republican Attorney General’s investigation. 

Melanie McElroy is the executive director of Common Cause Michigan.

She says Attorney General Bill Schuette is not only Michigan’s top cop, he also serves as the governor’s attorney.

"If the people of Flint were to bring legal action against the governor and were to sue him because of what happened here, the attorney general would be the one defending him. And so, it's a huge conflict of interest,” says McElroy. 

Common Cause Michigan would prefer an independent investigation take place into what led to Flint’s water becoming too toxic to drink unfiltered.