The highly publicized public water crisis in Flint, Michigan regained some of the spotlight in early December when a group of American veterans who protested at Standing Rock announced their intent to visit the area. Otherwise the ongoing environmental debacle, which retired NBA player Rasheed Wallace compared to a third world country, hasn’t earned that much press since six Michigan officials were charged for their roles in the crisis over the summer. This all changed on Tuesday when the state’s attorney general’s office announced four more sets of charges.
According to CNN, former Flint emergency managers Jerry Ambrose and Darnell Earley — both of whom reported directly to Gov. Rick Snyder — and city water plant officials Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson “were charged Tuesday for felonies of false pretenses and conspiracy.” The main thrust of the allegations levied against all four men argues they knowingly misled the Michigan Department of Treasury into obtaining millions in bonds, then used the money instead for a new pipeline. The alleged switch forced Flint to use the heavily polluted Flint River as its main source of drinking water.
Along with the previous charges filed in April and July of 2016, Tuesday’s announcement knocks the total number of individuals singled out in the Flint water crisis investigation to 13. What’s more, Ambrose and Earley — who also face misdemeanors for willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office — are the highest level officials to be criminally charged over the matter so far.
“All too prevalent and very evident during the course of this investigation has been a fixation on finances and balance sheets,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in a statement. “This fixation has cost lives. This fixation came with the expense of protecting the health and safety of Flint. It’s all about numbers over people, money over health.”
Meanwhile, CNN adds that the latest charges have encouraged Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) to renew his call for a congressional subpoena to be issued for Gov. Snyder. “Snyder appointed the two emergency managers charged today,” he said in a statement. “It is beyond irresponsible for the [House Oversight Committee] to close its investigation without demanding full accountability and transparency from him. The families of Flint deserve no less.”