The woes of Flint residents don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. In fact, they are getting worse with each passing day.
Case in point: the office of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder revealed Tuesday his outside legal fees, related to the ongoing lead-tainted water crisis, could climb as high as $2.7 million. For those unaware, the bills will be paid with taxpayer money — because apparently, the entire situation hasn’t already cost citizens enough.
As the Associated Press reports, Snyder’s officer has notified the State Administrative Board about the new estimates, including the $1.2 million fee for the defense attorneys along with $1.5 million requested by Attorney General Bill Schuette for Royal Oak attorney Todd Flood to investigate the public health disaster.
Since Snyder's office doesn't actually need the board's approval to proceed, the notification is nothing but a formality.
“It's beyond outrageous that Snyder wants to take $1.2 million from Michigan taxpayers to pay for defense attorneys over his involvement in the poisoning of Flint's water,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon. “That money should go toward replacing lead pipes and getting safe drinking water to Flint families, not for Snyder's defense attorneys.”
Snyder's office hired attorneys Eugene Driker and Brian Lennon for “the provision of legal services related to civil litigation about municipal drinking water in the City of Flint, Michigan, in an amount not to exceed $400,000.” It also authorized an agreement with Warner Norcross and Judd LLP for “the provision of legal services related to records management issues and investigations.”
“Instead of conducting a truly independent investigation into the cause of the Flint water crisis, Bill Schuette is funneling $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars to Todd Flood, who has contributed thousands of dollars to Bill Schuette, and thousands more to Rick Snyder — the man he is supposed to be investigating,” Dillon added. “The people of Flint deserve better.”
Meanwhile, governor’s spokesperson Ari Adler said much of the costs are for processing the "enormous amount of data" including the emails and the use of state funds is appropriate for the transparency initiative.
“The resources were needed to complete the work that has to be done, and needed to be done in a timely manner,” Adler explained. “We simply do not have the resources in the executive office, or even using the attorney general's office for assistance.”
To say the least, this entire situation is a slap in the face to taxpayers. The magnitude of this crisis has shaken up the daily lives of the residents, so having them front the enormous legal fee is nothing but insensitive and distasteful.