FLINT, Mich. — Two attorneys have responded to news that the state plans to charge former Gov. Rick Snyder in connection to the Flint water crisis.
Brian Lennon says the charges are part of a “political smear campaign.”
“That office has refused to share information about these charges with us, which is an indication that a public relations smear campaign is a higher priority than any official legal action,” he said, referring to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Special Counsel.
Read his full statement:
“We have been told by several reporters that the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Special Counsel plans to charge former Gov. Rick Snyder with crimes related to the Flint water investigation. That office has refused to share information about these charges with us, which is an indication that a public relations smear campaign is a higher priority than any official legal action.
“It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder. Any charges would be meritless. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation driving charging decisions.
“The Office of Special Counsel clearly needs a scapegoat after wasting five years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a fruitless investigation. Rather than following the evidence to find the truth, the Office of Special Counsel appears to be targeting former Gov. Snyder in a political escapade.”
Attorney Randell L. Levine says Rich Baird will also be charged in connection to the water crisis.
Baird was an aide in Snyder’s administration and convened the first Mission Flint meeting.
Levine says it’s unclear what the charges against Baird are and how they relate to his former position.
Read Levine’s full statement:
On Monday, January 11, we were informed that Rich Baird will be facing charges stemming from his work helping to restore safe drinking water for all residents and faith in the community where he grew up.
At this time, we have not been made aware of what the charges are, or how they are related to his position with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration.
He served as an adviser to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder during the Flint water emergency. Flint is where he was born and raised in a single parent blue collar home. He is not a person of privilege as his mother was a waitress and a factory worker. Today, he still has family living in Flint.
Rich’s relationship with the Flint community has always been strong. When the Flint water crisis hit, he wasn’t assigned by Governor Snyder to go to Flint, but rather he raised his hand and volunteered. He worked tirelessly to try to help the people of Flint, where he lived and had an office.
In January of 2016, Rich Baird convened the first Mission Flint meeting. Mission Flint was designed to implement a plan of community outreach. It involved listening and learning from Flint citizens, while supporting programs to help with behavioral issues, nutrition needs, water quality and filter distribution. It was also involved with educational programs and provided nurses in schools. Mission Flint met weekly in churches, union halls, and schools throughout the city of Flint. Individuals were engaged in door-to-door education programs for economic development; met with the members of the Flint Health Community; and championed water quality testing in schools, daycare centers, and nursing facilities.
Rich Baird created a water credit relief program which returned $42 million in credits to the people of Flint who could not use their water. He worked relentlessly for Flint residents in order to implement lead service line replacements. He led the negotiations with concerned pastors resulting in keeping water distribution pods open until testing showed that the water was safe to drink.
Chip Chamberlin, attorney for Former Health Department Director Nick Lyon, says his client should not face criminal charges, adding that the charges Lyon faced four years ago "were politically motivated and meritless."
Read Chamberlin's full statement:
Ever since charges against Nick Lyon were dismissed in 2019, we have heard accounts about a continuing investigation, some of which have been reported in the media, including the Attorney General’s comments last month. Recently, these rumors appear to have intensified with significant media inquiry.
If there is any truth to the reports that Mr. Lyon may be charged with criminal offenses, it would be an absolute travesty of justice. The original charges filed in June 2017 were politically motivated and meritless, and after two years of baseless claims and personal attacks they were dismissed. Moreover, in protracted federal litigation, the Attorney General successfully argued that Mr. Lyon was not responsible.
During the investigation we offered to meet with the Attorney General’s representatives, but our offers were rebuffed. Recently, we have asked for copies of any so-called charges, and we have been refused. It appears that the Attorney General is more interested in creating a misleading narrative, seeking publicity and trial by ambush, than in seeking the truth.
We remain concerned that, like their predecessors, this team has ignored evidence of actual wrongdoing of others that that led to issues attributed to the Flint Water Crisis, like the findings of the CDC in 2019 demonstrated.
If charges are contemplated against Mr. Lyon, they will be – once again – politically motivated and meritless.