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Schuette: Gov’s attorneys holding up Flint investigation

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says lawyers hired by Governor Rick Snyder at public expense are delaying progress in the criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis.

Schuette says the governor’s attorneys won’t turn over documents demanded by his Flint investigative team. The attorneys come from private law firms but are paid using state funds. More than $1 million has been approved to pay for the defense team.

Schuette says his office is bargaining with the governor’s lawyers, but would not rule out legal action.

“One way or another, we’ll make sure we get the documents we need,” he said.

A governor’s spokesman says his office is cooperating. Snyder Communications Director Ari Adler shared this statement via e-mail:

“We are taking this situation very seriously and are working with the Attorney General’s Office to fully comply with all investigations. We have already produced hundreds of thousands of pages from the Executive Office and state departments. Mr. Flood received documents from the Attorney General’s Office on our behalf in March, April, May and June and we heard no complaints about those document productions. It is puzzling, therefore, to hear the Attorney General suggest we are not cooperating.”

Schuette also defended the growing cost of his office’s Flint criminal investigation, which is now nearly $5 million, largely payments to the private law firm and investigators he has hired.

“You’re not going to so justice on the cheap,” he said. “And the amount of money that we are expending to provide justice and truth and accountability is very small compared to the harm that people have experienced.”

Schuette says more people will face criminal charges related to the water crisis. He’s already charged three state and local water officials, and filed a civil lawsuit against two water engineering firms that did work for the city.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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