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

  • From dreaded possibility to looming eventuality — Brexit is here: Nahlah Ayed

    World News CBC News
    If, as the Observer newspaper said, the British people are about to be herded off a cliff, then those who run the Georgian House Hotel are among the ones going down kicking and screaming. Source
  • Worst humanitarian crisis hits as Trump slashes foreign aid

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The world's largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years has been declared in three African countries on the brink of famine, just as President Donald Trump's proposed foreign aid cuts threaten to pull the United States from its historic role as the world's top emergency donor. Source
  • Mexican subway seats’ penis peril

    World News Toronto Sun
    Mexico City’s subway supremos have unleashed a bizarre plastic penis program to raise sex assault awareness. The brass are taking a hard line on the issue and have fitted plastic penises onto subway seats. So, instead of a comfy ride the shape of the seats have been changed to represent the shape of a male body. Source
  • Bodies of 2 UN experts, interpreter found in Congo

    World News CTV News
    BENI, Congo -- Congolese authorities say the bodies of an American and a Swedish UN expert and their interpreter have been found in the Central Kasai region where they recently disappeared. Police inspector general Charles Bisengimana said Tuesday the bodies of the two UN experts were identified after being found Monday. Source
  • Officer who punched teen in face during arrest violated his rights: judge

    Canada News CTV News
    A teenager who was punched in the face twice by a police officer after being pulled over for not signalling a lane change had his rights repeatedly violated, an Ottawa judge has ruled. Justice Julie Bourgeois found Mohamed Hamed not guilty of possession of marijuana, possession of counterfeit currency and resisting arrest, saying the evidence against him was inadmissible in light of the rights breaches. Source
  • Manitoba RCMP investigating $20,000 theft of canola seed

    Canada News CTV News
    CARBERRY, Man. - Manitoba RCMP are investigating an unusual farm theft. Mounties in Carberry say a silo was broken into on a farm in the RM of Glenboro-South Cypress, southeast of Brandon. They say the suspects drove a grain auger to the farm yard and used it to remove canola seed from the silo. Source
  • French poll Islam shocker

    World News Toronto Sun
    A shocking new poll reveals that a majority of French people believe Islam is incompatible with the nation’s ideals. The results have been plunging ever since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015 and each terrorist outrage drives the results down further. Source
  • Robin Hood flour recalled across Western Canada for possible E. coli contamination

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is issuing a recall for the Robin Hood brand of all-purpose flour sold in Western Canada due to possible E. coli contamination. In a statement Tuesday, the agency says Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. Source
  • WWE Diva Eva Marie’s absence latest womanly woe

    World News Toronto Sun
    WWE Diva of destruction Eva Marie is the latest in a wave of scandals and departures that have hammered the grappling giant. According to widely published reports, the 32-year-old star (real name Natalie Marie Coyle) is leaving the company. Source
  • O’Leary to CBC: ‘Sing for supper’

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Kevin O’Leary wants to make CBC “sing for its supper.” Man, I’d pay just to hear that. Hit it, CBC (with help from Steve Miller): Here’s a story about Peter M and Wendy, too All those state-paid journos helping pitch elite views Source