More Snyder emails released surrounding Flint water crisis, who’s to blame?

Posted at 11:39 PM, Feb 26, 2016

LANSING, Mich. — Finger pointing continued in Lansing as more emails surrounding the Flint water crisis were released on Friday.

Some of the documents suggested top advisers knew about the contaminated water just after the switch from the Detroit water system.  The new set of emails were released to the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News dating  back to October 2014.  According to emails, two of Snyder's top advisers sent emails out urging the Governor to switch back Flint's water supply to the mainstream.

Governor Snyder fielded a score of questions while signing a $30 million relief bill for Friday.

"There were red flags here, in these emails if you look at it, and beyond emails. We didn't connect all the dots that I wish we would have.  And again, that`s where we`re having to address that, that`s part of the cultural thing  I want to address longer term within state government, and government in general.," Snyder said.

Some people are also aiming for Snyder's resignation, and Snyder said more emails will be released to the public soon.  This kind of transparency into the governor's office is uncharted territory. Michigan is one of two states that exempt the governor and other lawmakers from the Freedom of Information Act. Jonathan Oosting from The Detroit News helped FOIA those e-mails, enabling many people to scour thousands of documents hoping to prove who knew what, and when.

"These sort of emails are never released, they’re not legally obligated to release them," said Oosting. "Some might question whether they should be after they see what’s in these emails."

Some of those emails are from top aides urging Governor Snyder to switch Flint's water back to Detroit's water system from as far back as October 2014: just months after switching to the Flint River for a source, and just weeks before the governor's re-election. Specifically, Governor Snyder's former Environmental Policy Adviser, Valerie Brader, and Chief Legal Council to the Governor, Mike Gadola. Both expressed worries about Flint's water, citing E. coli concerns and Flint water rusting GM engine parts.

Michigan's Democratic Party Chair, Brandon Dillon believes these emails are evidence of a bigger issue.

"I think it’s just another blatant example of the governors experiment of putting corporate profits and budget cutting over people, and it’s time for it to end," said Dillon. "We’ve called for the Governor to resign and I think these emails only reinforce his gross negligence."

Oosting said those documents detail communication from Governor Snyder's top advisers, lacking actual correspondence from Snyder himself.

"There’s also emails that show his communication staff was aware of a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak as early as January and March of 2015, Snyder says he didn’t learn about this until 2016," said Oosting. "What we’re seeing though is a pattern of people all around him talking about some of these issues and it really does strain credulity to think that he didn’t know anything about these issues at a time when some of his top staffers were talking about them."

Some critics said foul play lies buried in those documents.

"It was a cultural issue created in his office of corruption, secrecy, lies and a failure of trying to run government like a business," said Dillon.