A former prosecutor and a retired head of the Detroit FBI will play key roles in an investigation into Flint’s water crisis as part of an effort to seek answers and prevent potential conflicts of interest in the ongoing probe, Michigan’s attorney general announced Monday.
Bill Schuette said Todd Flood, a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, will spearhead Schuette’s investigation and serve as special counsel. He’ll be joined by Andy Arena, who led Detroit’s FBI office from 2007 until 2012.
“We’re going to determine which laws were violated, if any,” Schuette said. “The tragedy of Flint is a tragedy of immense proportion … Things went terribly, terribly wrong.”
The attorney general’s office represents both the people of Michigan and state government, so Schuette said the move will prevent conflicts between him and his investigation team and the team defending the governor and state departments against water-related lawsuits.
Lawsuits against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the state will be supervised by Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Isaacs and Chief Legal Counsel Matthew Schneider. Schuette noted there was a similar effort during Detroit’s bankruptcy case to ensure that conflicts of interest were avoided.
Flood, who currently is a lawyer in private practice handling both criminal and civil cases, said it’s a “privilege to have this opportunity to serve.” Arena currently heads the Detroit Crime Commission, a nonprofit aimed at reducing criminal activity. Both will report to Schuette.
“This is an investigation, I can assure you, we’re going to open up every door,” Flood said.
Schuette, a Republican, announced Jan. 15 he would investigate what, if any, Michigan laws were violated in the process that left Flint’s drinking water contaminated with lead.
“The facts will lead us to the truth,” Arena said.
Schuette didn’t say how long the investigation would take, or how much it would cost. He only said it would be “thorough, exhaustive and complete.”
The financially struggling city switched from Detroit’s municipal water system and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The water wasn’t properly treated to prevent lead from pipes from leaching into the supply.
Residents have been urged to use bottled water and to put filters on faucets.