Though former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has so far remained clear of criminal charges in the wake of the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reports that a search warrant was issued for Snyder’s phone and hard drive.
Reports The AP:
One warrant, signed May 19, lists all content from Snyder’s state-issued cellphone, iPad and computer hard drive. Similar information was sought from the devices of 33 employees who worked in his office, 11 in the Department of Environmental Quality and 22 in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The warrants came after [Solicitor General Fadwa] Hammoud this year reported that boxes of records were discovered in the basement of a state building, including phone extractions and a “trove” of other materials stored on hard drives that allegedly had not been turned over in response to the subpoenas.
Snyder, who left office in January, was governor when the Flint water crisis began in April 2014. An emergency manager that he appointed to run the financially-challenged majority Black city decided to switch the water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority to the Flint River to save money. It resulted in a doubling of the percentage of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood. In addition, there was a decrease in fertility and an increase in infant deaths as a result of the lead. Among the fatalities were 12 people who died from Legionnaire’s Disease linked to the toxic water. Approximately another 90 residents contracted it and lived—making it the third largest outbreak of Legionnaire’s in United States history.
More than a dozen lawsuits were filed by residents against the state and the municipality of Flint as a result of the crisis. The state’s attorney general also opened an investigation. To date, charges have been filed against 15 current and former government officials, including two who served in Snyder’s cabinet, reports The New York Times, adding:
For years, amid the investigations and lawsuits and bottled water giveaways, residents of Flint, Michigan, kept asking one question about the water crisis that plagued their city: Would Rick Snyder, the governor who led the state during the debacle, face criminal charges for what had happened?
Flint residents, many of whom still do not use tap water because of health concerns, continue to wonder if Snyder will be held liable for his role. Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and water activist, told The Times, “Just because you’re the governor of a state does not make you immune to facing accountability for your actions and inactions.”
In response to press reports on the search warrants, Snyder took to Twitter to insist that he had already turned over the devices and “all that stuff”:
I am dialing back the RPA a bit today. The stories coming out about my state phone and computer are very sloppy and misleading. I gave my phone and all that stuff to the AG’s office before I left office. Why the AG’s office is executing a search warrant on itself I cannot say.
— Rick Snyder (@onetoughnerd) June 5, 2019