As evidence against the state government continues to accrue, Michigan House Democratic leader Tim Greimel on Wednesday became the first member of the state legislature to join a growing call for Gov. Rick Snyder's resignation over Flint's water contamination crisis.
"It's now clear that for over a year the governor's top aides and advisers wrote thousands of emails relating to the Flint situation, and that they held many meetings and had many conversations about Flint," said Greimel. "It is inconceivable that the governor wasn't aware of what was going on. In fact, the governor's own chief of staff came out last week and indicated that he had been keeping the governor informed all along the way."
"Governor Snyder is a criminal disguised as a public servant."
—Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet
What's more, the Michigan Democratic Party revealed on Wednesday, records obtained under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act suggest that the Snyder administration "forced Flint residents to continue drinking poisoned water due to a dirty deal it signed with the city's Emergency Manager in April 2015."
According to the Detroit Free Press, the state of Michigan blocked Flint from returning to Lake Huron water from the Detroit water system when it agreed to grant the city an emergency loan of $7 million in April 2015.
The deal was signed off on "even after alarm bells were going off all over the Governor's office that lead and Legionnaires’ disease were poisoning families," said Brandon Dillon, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
"The Snyder administration effectively put a financial gun to the heads of Flint’s families by using the emergency manager law to lock the city into taking water from a poisoned source," Dillon said. "While children were being poisoned, the Snyder administration was playing political power games."
Meanwhile, an email contained in ongoing data dumps shows that Snyder planned to discuss "Flint water" with top staffers in February 2015—nearly nine months before the governor has said he knew about a water crisis in Flint.
Progress Michigan said Wednesday:
The message was sent on February 17, 2015 to the Rick for Michigan campaign email account — rather than the official state email account — of Allison Scott, the executive director to the governor, and shows that Rick Snyder wanted to personally discuss the “Flint water” situation with top officials in his administration, among other issues. The email seems to be proof that Gov. Snyder lied each and every time he claimed that his staff never brought the crisis to him and that it was not on his radar.
"Gov. Snyder wants us to believe that he knew nothing of the problems in Flint and that he was poorly served by his staffers. This email shows that Snyder was not only aware of the Flint Water Crisis but was concerned enough to discuss it with high-ranking staff in February of 2015," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.
"Every time Snyder is confronted with news about this crisis his excuse has been that he didn’t know—he can’t say that this time."
—Lonnie Scott, Progress Michigan
"Every time Snyder is confronted with news about this crisis his excuse has been that he didn’t know—he can’t say that this time," Scott continued. "This email is the smoking gun people have been looking for and proves that Snyder knew about and discussed the Flint water situation with top-level staffers months before taking any action."
Meanwhile, the national women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet on Wednesday announced it has taken out full-page ads in three Michigan newspapers this week giving residents and businesses a cut-out sign that they can put up in their homes and storefronts declaring "Governor Snyder Not Welcome."
"Governor Snyder is a criminal disguised as a public servant," said UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas. "Snyder's actions have resulted in more than ten thousand children and pregnant women being exposed to dangerously toxic levels of lead that will cause severe brain, nervous system and liver damage for their entire lives. This is unforgivable."
"Snyder must immediately resign and face criminal prosecution for poisoning the kids and families of Flint," Thomas declared.
Also Wednesday, a coalition of environmental and racial justice groups called on the Democratic National Committee to focus Sunday's debate—taking place in Flint—solely on racial and environmental injustice.
"The poisoning of Flint epitomizes a larger national crisis of people of color being physically endangered and politically ostracized," said Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson.
"We need to hear real plans for how to safeguard the people of Flint and other communities in peril from anyone who wants our vote," he said. "The Democratic Party has an opportunity to use their platform to elevate this necessary conversation, putting the voices of those most impacted front and center and hopefully building greater momentum for change."