Snyder defends cabinet members

2 face charges related to Flint water crisis

By DAVID EGGERT

Associated Press

LANSING — An apologetic Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was largely silent last year when criminal charges were brought against state officials over Flint’s man-made drinking water crisis, except to say some “bureaucrats” had failed residents and that he was focused on the city’s recovery.

Now, with two of his own cabinet members facing unprecedented manslaughter or other charges related to a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that some experts have linked to the municipal water, a more defiant Snyder is keeping them on the job and publicly and privately defending their names despite calls for their removal. He referred to Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon as a “strong leader.” He said Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells have his “full faith and confidence” and have been instrumental in Flint’s rehabilitation.

They are the highest-ranking officials to be charged in Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation of the city’s lead contamination. And unlike the other 10 state officials who were previously charged — five environmental regulators, three health experts and two former emergency managers whom Snyder appointed to address the city’s budget deficits — they are closer to his immediate orbit and report directly to him.

While the new charges have fanned speculation that Snyder could be next, Schuette said there is insufficient evidence. He added that the probe will continue, even as the emphasis shifts to prosecuting those accused.

“There’s no checklist on any crime or any person. We just go where the evidence takes us,” said Schuette, whose special prosecutor, Todd Flood, has not issued a subpoena to interview Snyder.

Lyon and Eden are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the governor.

Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. Prosecutors allege that he