Ex-prosecutor to lead investigation into Flint water crisis

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's attorney general named a former prosecutor on Monday to spearhead an investigation into the process that left Flint's drinking water tainted with lead, though Democrats questioned whether the special counsel would be impartial.

See Full Article

Republican Bill Schuette said Todd Flood, a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, will lead the probe and be joined by Andy Arena, a retired head of Detroit's FBI office.

Schuette said the two would play key roles in the investigation and prevent conflicts of interest since the attorney general's office also defends the state. Both will report to Schuette, who promised they would provide an "experienced and independent review of all the facts and circumstances."

He dismissed any concerns about Flood, who is now in private practice and has donated to candidates from both parties, including the maximum allowable amount to Schuette.

"I don't care who he (Flood) has given money to, Republican (or) Democrat. It doesn't matter," Schuette said. "This is about conducting a thorough, exhaustive, complete investigation. That's what we're doing."

It is unclear at this point if the probe could result in criminal or civil charges. The investigation could focus on whether environmental laws were broken or if there was official misconduct in the process that left Flint's drinking water contaminated.

Flood mostly declined to discuss which laws may have been broken, except to note there are prohibitions against misconduct by public officials. He said "a plethora of laws" potentially could be used to charge someone.

Schuette gave no timetable for the investigation.

Flint switched from Detroit's municipal water system while under emergency state financial management and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money, but the water was not properly treated. Residents have been urged to use bottled water and to put filters on faucets.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has been a focus of criticism, but Schuette said political affiliations would not be a factor there either.

Democrats noted state records showing Flood gave $3,000 to Snyder's campaigns and the maximum $10,200 to Schuette over the 2010 and 2014 election cycles. Flood also gave $1,200 to former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and donated to various judicial candidates.

State Rep. LaTanya Garrett, D-Detroit, is asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open a federal investigation instead. She noted that Schuette denied a Democratic legislator's September request for a state investigation.

"I am not confident that he can serve in the best interest of the Flint citizens," Garrett said.

Schuette had declined to investigate in December but later reversed course and announced the inquiry Jan. 15. That came more than four months after a Virginia Tech researcher said the Flint River was leaching lead from pipes into people's homes because the water was not treated for corrosion.

The attorney general said he continually reviews information that comes his way and a mass of new data that came to light around New Year's prompted him to open a probe.

Because the attorney general's office represents both the people of Michigan and the state government, Schuette said having the special counsel will help prevent conflicts between Schuette and his investigation team and those defending the governor and state departments against water-related lawsuits.

Lawsuits against Snyder and the state will be supervised by Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Isaacs and Chief Legal Counsel Matthew Schneider. Schuette noted there was a similar effort during Detroit's bankruptcy case to avoid conflicts of interest.

Flood represented former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in state court in 2013 when Kilpatrick was accused of violating parole in a case that forced him out of office. Arena heads the Detroit Crime Commission, a non-profit aimed at reducing criminal activity.

Schuette declined to say how much the outside investigators will be paid.

"This is going to be a 'Joe Friday' investigation," Arena said, referencing the detective from the TV show "Dragnet" known for his factual approach, "so I'm Joe Friday."

-----

Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Oakland warehouse fire: 'It’s too early to speculate on anything' [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    OAKLAND, Calif. — The death toll in the Oakland warehouse fire has grown to 36 and authorities say they expect the number to rise when they resume work later Monday following a temporary work stoppage. A wall is leaning inward, posing a safety hazard to those who have been searching the building which erupted in fire Friday night. Source
  • Founder of Oakland artists' colony showed little regard for others, colleagues say

    World News CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- The founder of a ramshackle Oakland artists' colony where dozens of people burned to death saw himself as a kind of guru and loved to surround himself with followers but showed chilling disregard for their well-being, according to relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. Source
  • Montreal's 'ugly' Christmas tree draws in spectators

    Canada News CTV News
    A giant Christmas tree in Montreal is being compared to an “ugly Christmas sweater” -- so unattractive it’s actually charming. The 26-metre balsam fir is not only scraggly and lopsided, but it’s decorated with mini red Canadian Tire logos that only add to the tackiness. Source
  • Biden not ruling out presidential bid in 2020

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - You heard it here first, more than a month before Donald Trump even enters the White House: Joe Biden says he's running for president in 2020 - maybe. The departing 74-year-old vice-president said it with a slight smile on his face. Source
  • Trump, who once called global warming a hoax, meets with climate change activist Al Gore

    World News CBC News
    Former vice-president Al Gore, a leading voice in the fight against climate change, and Donald Trump, who at one point called it a hoax, met on Monday in what Gore called a "productive" session. Gore, a Democrat, spent about 90 minutes in meetings at the president-elect's Trump Tower apartment and office building in Manhattan. Source
  • Lovett says she failed little Ryan

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The defence is arguing its case today at the trial of a woman who treated her son with dandelion tea and oil of oregano before he died of a strep infection. Tamara Lovett's trial is entering its second week in a Calgary courtroom. Source
  • Sailor launches class action lawsuit alleging abuse of LGBT in military

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA - A former sailor alleges in a proposed class-action lawsuit that there is a culture of sexual harassment and fear in Canada's Armed Forces. Nicola Peffers says in a statement of claim that female and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered members of the Armed Forces are routinely subjected to sexual harassment and abuse. Source
  • Standing Rock Sioux chairman will support pipeline fights — but his goal isn’t to stop all pipelines

    World News CBC News
    Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault, who has been at the centre of a contentious pipeline debate in North Dakota, says he's willing to support future pipeline fights — including those in Canada. "If I have an opportunity to make a difference for this world, and if that means standing up with people who have a strong belief and help them with their cause, I'll be more than willing to be there," he told CBC News Monday from the Standing Rock tribal chambers in Fort Yates,…
  • Bodies of Calgary parents found by their kids

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Two people dead from what police believe were drug overdoses were found by their four children. Staff Sgt. Mark Hatchette with the Calgary Police Service said a 14-year-old phoned 911 at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. When first responders got to the 30 block of Glengrove Close S.W. Source
  • Alberta 'Creep Catcher' charged in Lacombe 'bust'

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    LACOMBE, Alta. — A member of a vigilante group has been charged with criminal harassment and mischief in an incident in central Alberta. Chief Lorn Blumhagen of Lacombe police says the alleged victim had been communicating online with a person through a social media website for the past three months. Source