91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Every Thursday afternoon, Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host Jennifer White takes a closer look at the issues affecting Michigan politics with state political analysts including Ken Sikkema, Susam Demas, Debbie Dingell, Bill Ballenger and others.

Political roundup: With Flint legal bills at $15 million and rising, why isn’t there a cap?

Protestor holding up a sign that says "Safe Water" at a Flint Water Crisis protest
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
The Flint water crisis has created a $4.5 million legal bill for Gov. Rick Snyder.


As the aftermath of the Flint water crisis drags on, attention has now largely turned toward the repercussions for those involved. Fifteen state and local government officials now stand accused of a combined 51 criminal charges. 

And this has led to a rather strange situation where the government is paying both the legal fees to prosecute the officials, as well as the legal fees to defend them. So far that has cost Michigan taxpayers $15.2 million.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside on Friday to discuss Flint legal proceedings.

Having taxpayers pay for both sides is a rare situation, Barnett said, and shouldn’t be happening.

“Certainly there should be some caps on legal fees,” Barnett said. “So far, nobody has passed a bill that would limit the amount of per hour charges by attorneys, and that’s very problematic.”

Sikkema lamented the situation, calling it a “costly mistake.” But paying legal fees is part of the process, he said.

“I don’t have a problem with having government officials defended by the taxpayers when they make decisions that are part of their official capacity,” Sikkema said.

Listen to the full conversation above.

Ken Sikkema and Vicki Barnett join Stateside every Friday to break down the week’s political news.

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunesGoogle Play, or with this RSS link)

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
Related Content