Ex-Governor Rick Snyder Is Reportedly Being Charged for the Flint Water Crisis

The public health catastrophe poisoned the city's water supply.
January 12, 2021, 8:13pm
In this Jan. 23, 2018, file photo, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.
In this Jan. 23, 2018, file photo, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

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Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan at the time of the toxic water crisis in Flint, will face charges for his role in the public health catastrophe that poisoned the city’s supply, according to the Associated Press. 

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Two people who know of the prosecution told the AP that the state attorney general’s office informed defense attorneys on the case that indictments were imminent. The nature of the charges wasn’t immediately clear, but Snyder, former state health department director Nick Lyon, and others are expected to be charged.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told VICE News the office was “not in a position to comment on the details of the team’s ongoing investigation, but they are working diligently.”

Snyder’s attorney, meanwhile, said in a statement that the Michigan Attorney General's Office of Special Counsel has “refused to share information about these charges with us, which is an indication that a public relations smear campaign is a higher priority than any official legal action.”

"It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder,” said Brian Lennon, a partner at Warner Norcross + Judd in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Any charges would be meritless. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation driving charging decisions.”

Lyon’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

The scandal began in 2014, when a state-appointed manager for the majority-Black city of Flint switched its water supply to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure. The move caused lead to leach from the pipes, and some researchers have also linked it to a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County that killed at least 12 people.

For years, the question has been what Snyder knew about Flint’s tainted water, and when he knew it. Snyder apologized in 2016, after residents admonished him for being dangerously slow to act.

The Detroit News reported last month that a criminal investigation into the Flint crisis was reaching its conclusion. Authorities obtained search warrants for state-owned mobile devices from Snyder and 66 other current and former officials in Michigan in 2019, according to the AP.