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Michigan governor targeted in racketeering lawsuit over Flint water crisis

Michigan governor Rick Snyder and other state and local officials have been named in a federal racketeering lawsuit over Flint's water crisis.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder and other state and local officials have been named in a federal racketeering lawsuit over Flint’s water crisis.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday by 400 Flint residents who had their water supply contaminated with lead after the city changed its water source from Lake Huron to the corrosive Flint River.

The racketeering lawsuit was filed under the RICO Act, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. In order to prove this charge, multiple wrongdoings have to be shown.

The suit accuses Snyder and the others of executing a “wrongful scheme” to save money by switching the water supply to a free – but poisoned – source rather than file bankruptcy petitions for the city.

The lawsuit also states that Michigan “never intended to use the free water” as a permanent solution.

Instead, it alleges the state had planned to discontinue buying Lake Huron water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department in 2014 and change to buying Lake Huron water from the Karegnondi Water Authority in late 2016, after the new pipes were built. This change of supplier would save the city money.

Those named in the lawsuit

Those also named alongside Snyder include the governor’s former chief of staff Dennis Muchmore. The lawsuit claims that Muchmore was “an integral actor in the fiscal scheme” that led to the State’s “insufficient response.”

State agencies that were previously accused of missteps in handling the water crisis are also named in the lawsuit.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality — named last month by an independent task force as being the most at fault for the crisis — is named in the lawsuit, along with some members of its staff who are being sued in their individual capacities.

Also included is the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Some of its staff are also included for their individual roles in the crisis.

On a city-level, Flint is named, along with former Mayor Dayne Walling, various members of the public works department and the three former emergency managers that had control over the city during the water crisis.

Several private engineering companies hired to assess Flint’s water system are also named in the lawsuit. The suit alleges that the companies “defrauded, misrepresented and falsified information and warning signs.”

 Criticism of Snyder

One of the attorneys representing the Flint residents, Marc Bern, had some harsh words about Snyder, who’s a former businessman.

“He wants to run the state like a business! Well, the citizens of Flint, as shareholders in the corporation of the state of Michigan, I don’t think they were treated in an appropriate way.”

Image: Gary Ridley/MLive.com

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