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Gov picks Flint water defendant to lead new panel looking at public health threats

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Dr. Eden Wells

Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed a top state official criminally charged in the Flint water crisis investigation to head a new council tasked with improving Michigan’s response to emerging public health threats.

Dr. Eden Wells is Michgan’s chief medical executive.   

Wells will be in court tomorrow for a hearing on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to an officer in connection to the Flint water crisis. Prosecutors say an additional charge of involuntary manslaughter will also likely be added.

Wells allegedly interfered with efforts by independent researchers studying a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County.

Despite the charges against her, on Monday, the governor tapped Wells to lead the Public Health Advisory Council. The council, which was recommended by theMichigan Public Health Commission,will develop an action plan for implementing the recommendations of the commission. It also is tasked with providing advice about emerging issues in public health, monitoring the effectiveness of Michigan’s public health response system, and reviewing multi-agency efforts to support collaboration and a unified approach on public health responses.

“The creation of this new Public Health Advisory Council is a vital step forward for Michigan in preparing for and responding to emerging public health issues,” Wells said in a written statement. 

Wells is one of 15 current and former government officials charged criminally in the Flint water crisis. A spokeswoman for Michigan's attorney general declined to comment on Wells’ appointment, citing the charges pending against her.

A governor’s spokeswoman defends the choice of Wells to head the panel, saying, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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