Racketeering lawsuit filed against Gov. Snyder, others for ‘unthinkable harm’

Photo via FlintWaterStudy.org
Photo via FlintWaterStudy.org

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Hundreds of Flint residents impacted by lead contamination of their drinking water have filed a racketeering lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder, his emergency managers and other state and local leaders.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The federal lawsuit alleges that Snyder and others devised a “wrongful scheme” to save money by tapping the Flint River for drinking water in April 2014, a decision that will negatively affect children and adults for generations.

“Governor Snyder participated in, directed, facilitated and directed the fiscal scheme to balance Flints budget through the sale of free but toxic Flint River water,” the suit reads. “Defendant Snyder violated clearly established constitutional rights of Plaintiffs and the putative class.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Flint, says the state should have invoked “time tested, well-honed federal bankruptcy protections for restructuring the debts of municipalities.”

The governor’s spokesman declined to comment.

The defendants in the suit include Snyder, the state of Michigan, the city’s former emergency managers, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Health and Human Services, numerous other state officials, the city of Flint and several consultants.

“The MDEQ failed to require corrosion control for Flint River water in violation of the federal Lead and Copper Rule, misled the federal EPA, conducted illegal and improper sampling of Flint’s water, lied to the public about the safety of Flint’s water, and attempted to publicly discredit outside individuals that offered evidence of the water’s contamination,” the suit reads. “MDEQ, through its agents, servants and employees, was an integral actor in an enterprise that defrauded, misrepresented and falsified information and warning signs relating to the property and financial affairs of Flint as it affected its citizenry.”

The state’s actions created “unthinkable harm” to Flint residents.

Opponents of Snyder are collecting signatures to recall the governor, who finally decided in October 2015 to switch back to Detroit’s water.

E-mails and other records show the state was warned of the dangers of using the Flint River and failed to act until public pressure became insurmountable.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Whitepine63

    I don’t understand why there is not big Federal monies like there is for the Zika virus.

    • Dongald Trumpenis

      Because lead poisoning in poor black children isn’t contagious, Republicans like it just fine.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Yeah they put in special pipes that only poison the half black city, and the half white side of the city, they open perrier bottles and send that in pipes to white homes.

        Are you mentally ill ?

        Is this like the famous school to prison pipeline that is a “smart pipe” and sucks up mostly blacks, lesser extent latin people, and knows oddly to reject jews, and asians, and of course all white of all income levels ?

        Maybe you need to put down the pipe.

  • Harry Palmer

    The Koch’s have been hard at work, with their secret billionaire PAC, installing “Puppet Governors” like Snyder, Walker, Brownback, et. al since the early 00’s.
    Flint is just another failure in a long line of these right wing catastraf**ks engineered by those stooges.
    Everyone should read Jane Mayer’s book on the Kochs, before they go to vote next November.

  • Dongald Trumpenis

    Mark my words- The long-term attempt to cover up the water crisis was a desperate attempt to protect the Karagondi Water Project. There’s just NO other reason to delay addressing so many complaints from so many directions about the water quality UNLESS some un-publicized priority was forcing Snyder and his cronies to hush things up. Ignoring a public health crisis is a high-risk game to play, and Snyder’s high-priced team was not so dumb as to idly let it happen.

    That priority was getting OFF Detroit water and getting Karegondi Pipeline online, because of the COMMERCIAL and INDUSTRIAL benefits of having that pipeline to bring water that far inland. If Flint had merely switched back to the Detroit system at the lower rate that had been offered up then the pipeline would have seemed unnecessary. The rush to switch to river water happened over the objections of some who were worrying about it.

    Karengondi is not about PUBLIC water, it’s about COMMERCIAL water. When you realize that Snyder is all about BIG BUSINESS and NOT people, it all makes sense.

    • nishnob

      Not to mention the excess 8 million gallons of water Flint was forced to commit to in order for the KWA to get a bigger pipeline. They will be paying for more water than the city can possibly use. The previous mayor of Flint made this deal since he is part of the board of the KWA.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    Well Gang fasten your seat belts, This is going to make Three Mile Island look like a Tea party.