Gov. Snyder accused of deleting Flint e-mails, misleading Congress about water crisis

Gov. Rick Snyder, via Michigan Municipal League.
Gov. Rick Snyder, via Michigan Municipal League.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Gov. Rick Snyder pledged to release all of his e-mails related to the Flint water crisis earlier this year, but he failed to say some of the communication may have been deleted.

Now his office acknowledges that some e-mails may be gone.

“There were e-mails that could have been deleted prior to April of 2013, which is when the litigation hold started, but he doesn’t recall ever doing so,” Ann Heaton, the governor’s press secretary, told Michigan Radio.

The governor’s office said Snyder intended to release all e-mails for the time period after the state was sued over the water crisis.

“He just doesn’t think he had anything on that topic and that if it was on that topic, it likely would have been important and probably would have been retained,” Heaton said. 

Congressman Elijah Commings, D-Maryland, a leader on the oversight committee investigating the Flint water crisis, said Snyder “continues to withhold documents and witnesses from Congress.”

“The Governor’s written answers to the Committee raise a whole new set of concerns about the accuracy of his testimony before Congress in March,” Cummings said in a written statement. “We already knew his testimony was misleading when he claimed he was working closely with the Mayor of Flint—at the same time he was uttering those words, he was withholding from the Mayor a plan to address the crisis he had been working on for weeks. Now he has reversed his sworn testimony before the Committee and admitted that he did in fact delete some of his emails, and we may never know what they said. Although he claims he was aware of problems with Flint’s water, he repeatedly claims that he can’t recall basic information from that period.”

He added: “Despite Governor Snyder’s repeated promises to be transparent and accountable and to cooperate with Congress, his actions are impeding our ability to thoroughly investigate this crisis.”

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.