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Michigan Attorney General Launches Probe Into Flint Water Contamination


After many months of finger-pointing, Michigan is now looking into who is at fault for Flint's water crisis. The state's attorney general appointed a special counsel to investigate how that city's tap water became contaminated with lead.

From Flint, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports.

STEVE CARMODY, BYLINE: People here have spent nearly two years drinking bottled water. For almost as long, there's been a demand for someone, anyone to be held accountable for the decisions that left their tap water undrinkable. Today, Michigan's attorney general took a step in that direction.


BILL SCHUETTE: Make no mistake about it. Without fear and without favor, this independent investigation will be high-performance, and the chips fall where they may.

CARMODY: Attorney General Bill Schuette introduced former assistant county prosecutor Todd Flood as the special counsel overseeing the investigation. As a county prosecutor, Flood handled homicide, drug and other criminal cases. He's now in private practice. The special counsel was needed because, by law, the attorney general's office would have to defend the state and the governor's office against any lawsuits tied to the Flint water crisis. It was the governor who appointed emergency managers who decided to save money by switching the city's drinking water source. Also, two state agencies under the governor failed to detect or adequately address the problem. Flood promises to get to the bottom of what happened here.


TODD FLOOD: We're going to open up every door. We're going to ask the tough questions, those proverbial questions of - what did you know, and when did you know it?

CARMODY: But even before Flood spoke this morning, questions were raised about his ties to Michigan governor Rick Snyder, including large financial contributions made to Snyder's past political campaigns. Those contributions concerned Melanie McElroy, who heads Common Cause Michigan.

MELANIE MCELROY: This gives an impression to the public that Todd Flood is entangled with the administration.

CARMODY: Flood dismisses concerns about his past contributions, saying he gives to Republicans and Democrats. There are also concerns about the lack of a timetable for the investigation into a crisis that has already lasted nearly two years. State Senator Jim Ananich represents the city of Flint. He says residents are tired of waiting for answers.

JIM ANANICH: The longer this takes to be done, the less trust they're going to have in the results.

CARMODY: Attorney General Bill Schuette says he doesn't want to create what he calls an inaccurate timeline for an investigation, an investigation that could result in civil or even criminal charges.

For NPR News, I'm Steve Carmody in Flint. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A