David Eggert ?and Mike Householder
LANSING, MICH.: Michigan’s attorney general named a former prosecutor on Monday to spearhead an investigation into the process that left Flint’s drinking water tainted with lead, though Democrats questioned whether the special counsel would be impartial.
Republican Bill Schuette said Todd Flood, a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, will lead the probe and be joined by Andy Arena, a retired head of Detroit’s FBI office.
Schuette said the two would play key roles in the investigation and prevent conflicts of interest since the attorney general’s office also defends the state. Both will report to Schuette, who promised they would provide an “experienced and independent review of all the facts and circumstances.”
He dismissed any concerns about Flood, who is now in private practice and has donated to candidates from both parties, including the maximum allowable amount to Schuette.
“I don’t care who he [Flood] has given money to, Republican [or] Democrat. It doesn’t matter,” Schuette said. “This is about conducting a thorough, exhaustive, complete investigation. That’s what we’re doing.”
It is unclear at this point if the probe could result in criminal or civil charges. The investigation could focus on whether environmental laws were broken or if there was official misconduct in the process that left Flint’s drinking water contaminated.
Flood mostly declined to discuss which laws may have been broken, except to note there are prohibitions against misconduct by public officials. He said “a plethora of laws” potentially could be used to charge someone.
Schuette gave no timetable for the investigation.
Flint switched from Detroit’s municipal water system while under emergency state financial management and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money, but the water was not properly treated. Residents have been urged to use bottled water and to put filters on faucets.