Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced [press release] Monday that he has appointed a former prosecutor to act as Special Counsel in his investigation into the water contamination crisis in the city of Flint and that a retired Detroit FBI chief will also participate in the investigation. In order to establish an “ethics-based conflict wall” between him and his investigation team, Schuette, has created a team defending the governor and state departments and another team investigating the crisis. Todd Flood is a former assistant prosecutor for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and is now a private practice attorney in southeastern Michigan. Andrew Arena is a retired Detroit FBI chief who now leads a non-profit organization aimed at reducing criminal activity called the Detroit Crime Commission [advocacy website]. The Michigan Democratic Party has denounced the decision to place Flood in the investigation because he has contributed to the governor’s campaign in the past [NYT report].
Schuette announced [JURIST report] earlier this month that he planned to investigated the water contamination crisis in Flint. On the same day, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder asked President Barack Obama to issue a federal disaster declaration. Flint’s drinking water supply was switched from Lake Huron water treated in Detroit to water from the Flint River treated at the Flint water treatment plant in 2014 to save money. The new supply was not treated with required corrosion control chemicals and caused lead and pathogens [report] to get into the town’s water supply from pipes. Researchers from Virginia Tech concluded that lead levels were high enough to be designated as “toxic waste” [WP report]. Lead can cause mental and physical issues or death—especially in children. The National Guard was activated [CNN report] earlier this month in order to distribute bottled water and water filters. Officials have come under fire [The Atlantic report] for their response to the crisis, as it took 20 months after the initial switch for an emergency to be declared by the state. The Justice Department has also opened an investigation [Huffington Post report] into the situation.