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Legal Complaint Filed Over Michigan Governor’s Defense Fund

Advocacy group Progress Michigan filed a complaint over what it calls Michigan governor Rick Snyder's failure to create a Legal Defense Fund under state law.

Advocacy group Progress Michigan filed a complaint on Friday over what they are calling Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s failure to create a Legal Defense Fund under state law.

The complaint comes after news broke last week that Snyder hired two attorneys from private law firms to assist in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis.

It was later announced that the attorneys would be paid $1.2 million.

The State Administrative Board will decide whether taxpayer dollars should be used to provide legal defense for him personally, not the state, according to Progress Michigan.

The complaint alleges that Snyder is in violation of Michigan’s Legal Defense Fund Act. It was passed in 2008 to regulate and require reports of money spent to assist elected officials in defending themselves against criminal, civil or administrative action.

There have been questions in recent months over what Snyder knew, and when, about Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis. Even more questions about Snyder’s involvement have erupted after a batch of emails were released recently.

“Gov. Snyder is worth $200 million dollars, but he thinks that the working people of Michigan should pay for his legal defense,” said Lonnie Scott, Progress Michigan’s executive director. It supports the claim by pointing to past cases in which elected officials in Michigan have not used taxpayer funds for their own legal defense — such as former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Ari Adler, a spokesperson for the governor’s office defended the use of state funds. He stated, “Using state money actually provides for the high level of transparency the Governor has established because the contracts are being released publicly.”

Progress Michigan says the State Administrative Board will make their decision next week.

(Image: Brett Carlsen/Getty)

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