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Lawsuits surrounding the Flint water crisis pile up

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study

A Flint resident is asking the Ingham County Circuit court to convene a one-person grand jury to investigate Governor Rick Snyder’s role in the Flint water crisis.

Keri Webber’s complaint says the governor unilaterally approved spending two million dollars on lawyers in violation of state law and the Michigan Constitution. The complaint says the governor can’t approve a contract in which he has a personal stake.

Webber is a Flint resident who says her family members developed health problems after the city started getting its tap water from the Flint River. Webber says having her tax dollars go to Gov. Snyder’s legal fees, after getting medical bills and water bills, is the last straw.

“So for I think the majority of Flint, I will speak for all of those I do know, it is one more kick,” she said. “It is one more slap in the face. It is one more insult.”

Mark Brewer is the attorney on this case. He says he hopes the court will investigate where the legislature and the Attorney General have failed.

“We’re grateful, we’re thankful, that the laws of this state allow citizens like Keri to be able to go to the courts and ask them to investigate because others have failed to do their jobs,” he said.

Currently, there is no law that says a government official can’t use tax dollars to pay for private legal counsel. But Senate Minority leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) introduced a bill in September to change that.

“Obviously every dollar that’s sort of wasted on the governor’s legal fees could be going to school nurses or early education programs or early education programs,” he said. “All things we know need to happen.”

Governor Snyder has said the spending was appropriate because the investigations relate to his official duties as governor.   

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R