Michigan Governor Cornered on Flint Plans

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The top House Democrat investigating Flint, Michigan’s water crisis accused Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday of being dishonest in his sworn congressional testimony.
     U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings laid out the allegations in a nine-page letter this morning to the governor of Michigan, three weeks to the day of Snyder’s appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
     Though Snyder testified on March 17 that he was collaborating on a solution for Flint with Mayor Karen Weaver, Cummings said newly obtained documents suggest otherwise.
     It was not until 7:12 p.m. – nearly 10 hours after Snyder’s testimony began – that the governor’s office actually sent Weaver information about his “75-point plan” for Flint, according to the letter.
     “Your actions raise grave concerns about the accuracy of your testimony before our committee,” wrote Cummings, a Maryland Democrat. “If you withheld information about your 75 point plan from Mayor Weaver and other local leaders until after your appearance before our committee, that would appear to directly contradict your testimony on March 17.”
     Snyder’s spokesman Ari Adler meanwhile insisted that the line of communication between the state and city remains open.
     “When we received this letter, top members of the governor’s staff were meeting with the city council president and vice president,” Adler said in a statement. “The Snyder administration is also in near daily contact with the mayor and her key staff regarding efforts being made to help restore Flint and help the people who live there recover from this crisis.”
     Among a group of lawmakers who have publicly called for Snyder’s resignation, Rep. Cummings said the discrepancies with Snyder’s testimony raises “grave concerns” whether he was honest with the committee.
     A full investigation requires Snyder to divulge all “emails, communications and other documents” related to the development of the aid plan, as well as conversations about involving Weaver in the process, according to the letter.
     “Your continued refusal to engage in real consultation with elected leaders of Flint is bewildering, and it contradicts one of the key lessons of your own Task Force,” Cummings wrote. “As a direct result, your 75 point plan looks more like a press release than a substantive or collaborative approach, and it fails to address many of the key problems identified by Mayor Weaver and other local officials, as described below in detail.”
     Cummings said he will also take up Snyder on an invitation to visit Michigan, possibly as early as next week. When there, Cummings suggested the two would sit down with Weaver, Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson and Michigan Democrat Rep. Dan Kildee.
     Snyder testified at last of three hearings the House committee held on the Flint water crisis. With the people of Flint drinking lead-poisoned water for over a year before authorities took action, the committee has split along party lines as to whether blame should fall to Snyder or the Environmental Protection Agency.
     The letter to Snyder concludes with Cummings citing input Mayor Weaver has suggested to the governor’s plan.
     Lacking input from local leaders, Snyder’s plan allegedly fails to adequately implement corrosion control or to fully remove lead pipes.
     “You and your administration bear primary responsibility for poisoning the water of Flint and endangering the health and safety of its people,” Cummings wrote. “You also bear primary responsibility for addressing this crisis. You once said you wanted your legacy as Governor to be ‘a lasting foundation for success.’ History will be the ultimate judge of your legacy, but you now have the power and the moral obligation to help the children, the families, and the people of Flint.”

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