Michigan taxpayers are getting stuck with a $5 million bill for defending state officials in the Flint water crisis.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will announce Aug. 30 he is increasing financial caps on contracts to law firms representing him in the Flint water crisis. Taxpayers will cover the expense of $3.4 million in billings.
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Health and Human Services representatives have spent an additional $1.6 million for lawyer fees.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, filed charges against three employees of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and three others from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Health and Human Services employees Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott and Corinne Miller, were charged with misconduct in office, as well as conspiring to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.
Schuette also charged one Flint water department employee, as well as two mid-level Michigan DEQ regulators in April with felonies and misdemeanors for allowing people to continue drinking Flint’s lead-tainted water, reports The New York Times.
Michigan taxpayers will also have to pay out money to attorneys representing government officials who have not been charged with a crime related to the crisis.
The law firm of Clark Hill, for instance, billed the state more than a half a million dollars to represent former water officials Dan Wyant, as well as former spokesman Brad Wurfel.
Both Wyant and Wurfel resigned in December after Wyant said his department mistakenly interpreted federal law in regulating the city’s water resources.
Democrats blasted Snyder Friday following the announcement.
“Gov. Snyder is using $3.2 million of hard earned taxpayer money as his own private checkbook in an effort to skirt responsibility for the Flint water crisis,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon said in a statement. “It’s deplorable that the Republican-controlled Legislature has refused, time and time again, to take a stand against this absolute abuse of public dollars.”
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