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Flint water investigations lead Gov. Snyder to hire outside legal counsel

Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint.

Gov. Snyder hired two outside lawyers to assist him with representation in a number of ongoing legal investigations related to the Flint water crisis.

The contracts are with Eugene Driker, a civil defense attorney, and Brian Lennon, a criminal defense attorney.

Ari Adler, spokesman for the Governor, told Crain's Detroit Business and the Detroit Free Press that the outside council will help Gov. Snyder with civil representation and to search and process emails and other records connected to the crisis.

More from Lindsay VanHulle of Crain's Detroit Business, who first reported on the story:

Both attorneys are being paid with state dollars, Adler said. Their contracts are worth $249,000 each, he said, but the attorneys will be paid only for hours worked. Contracts end Dec. 31, but can be extended.

Adler told Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press that the attorneys will assist State Attorney General Bill Schuette with his work in defending state employees and the governor.

Driker and Lennon would provide legal assistance in addition to what is being provided by the AG. "We retain outside counsel ... to complement what the Attorney General's Office is doing," he said.

Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan, spoke out against Snyder's use of taxpayer money to pay for his attorneys. 

“Gov. Snyder is spending more taxpayer dollars on private legal counsel than it would’ve cost for two years of anti-corrosive control in the Flint water system, so it’s plain to see he’s more interested in protecting himself than the people of Flint. Snyder and his Republican colleagues have claimed that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and ‘smaller government’ but it’s clear that what they mean is that they only want government to work for their personal benefit. Snyder should foot the bill for his own legal counsel, not the taxpayers.”

Attorney General  Bill Schuette has his own investigation underway in the Flint water crisis. The attorney in charge of that investigation said last month that serious crimes could be brought forward:

Todd Flood says criminal charges could include official misconduct by public officials and involuntary manslaughter, depending on what the investigation uncovers.

Schuette has said his office operates independently from the governor’s office, and that "we’re going to have a full and complete investigation... where the truth goes, that’s where we’ll go."

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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