News & Politics

Three City and State Officials Criminally Charged in Flint Water Crisis

Chief Investigator Andy Arena addresses the public during a news conference discussing the Flint water crisis. (Jake May /The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that criminal charges were being filed against three city and state officials related to the Flint water contamination crisis.

Schuette also made it clear that there would be more charges forthcoming. “These charges are only the beginning, and there will be more to come. That, I can guarantee you.”

The charges include more than a dozen separate counts against two officials at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, as well as a Flint water quality supervisor.

The Washington Post:

Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, the two state environmental quality officials, each face multiple felonies, including misconduct in office and tampering with evidence. Prysby faces an additional felony charge for authorizing a permit for the Flint treatment plant “knowing it would fail to provide clean and safe drinking water to families,” Schuette said. Some of the felony charges carry maximum penalties of up to five years in prison. The two men also are charged with misdemeanor violations of the state’s drinking water regulations.

Michael Glasgow, a Flint water official, faces a felony charge of tampering with evidence for allegedly altering and falsifying reports to state and federal regulators that made it appear lead levels in the city’s water supply were lower than they actually were. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty.

The charges are the first to stem from the catastrophe — which potentially exposed nearly 100,000 residents to water tainted with lead — but Schuette and other investigators on Wednesday vowed that they mark only the beginning of a broadening investigation.

“We have a long way to go. We have a lot of people to interview, a lot of evidence to get,” said former Wayne County prosecutor Todd Flood, who is helping lead the probe. “We’re not targeting any person or people. But nobody is off limits, either.”

“Willful neglect of duty” is a crime? Most of official Washington would be in the slammer if they applied the law the way they’re supposed to.

Two state officials may go to jail for “misconduct in office.” Meanwhile, no one has even been fired at the ATF or in the Justice Department for the Fast and Furious scandal that ended up costing two U.S. Border Patrol agents their lives.

The EPA authorizes work at the Gold King mine that leads to three million gallons of toxic orange wastewater flowing into the Animas River in Colorado that poisoned communities in three states and no one gets fired, no one is demoted, and the EPA managers give themselves bonuses. I guess that’s not “misconduct in office” either.

Indeed, given the extent of official corruption in office — ATF, IRS, State Department, EPA — it’s refreshing to see someone, somewhere, somehow trying to hold government lawbreakers accountable. Michigan AG Schuette is setting a fine example that good government supporters would like to see transplanted to the nation’s capital.