Multi-millionaire Gov. Rick Snyder puts Michigan taxpayers on the hook for his personal #FlintWaterCrisis legal bills


NOTE: This post has been updated HERE.

As I wrote about earlier this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette are asking the taxpayer of our state to foot the bills for their legal bills related to defending Snyder from the lawsuits filed against him for his response to the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water with the powerful, odorless, tasteless, invisible neurotoxin lead. Yesterday, the contract Snyder signed with the law firm Warner Norcross & Judd was released:

Gov. Rick Snyder has agreed to pay a Grand Rapids law firm up to $800,000 in taxpayer dollars for advice and representation related to “any criminal investigations and prosecutions and related claims” resulting from the Flint drinking water crisis, according to an engagement letter obtained Thursday by the Free Press.

The letter and contract with Warner Norcross & Judd make no mention of searching, reviewing and processing e-mails and other records, which is how Snyder’s office had described the contract’s purpose. Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said March 3 that criminal defense attorney Brian Lennon of Warner Norcross had been hired in an investigatory role to perform those functions related to processing records. […]

Taxpayers have expressed outrage at the $1.2-million cost of Snyder’s outside legal representation, when a second contract, worth up to $400,000 with a firm providing representation in civil cases, is included. The contracts are in addition to legal representation Snyder is receiving through the office of Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Rick Snyder is purported to be worth $200,000,000. So, this multi-millionaire wants the taxpayers of Michigan to pay for his legal costs for actions he personally took. In fact, the very people suing him are among those paying for his legal bills.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon was among those who find this outrageous and ties it to the release of yet another batch of heavily-redacted emails yesterday:

The audacity of the Snyder administration has reached a disgraceful new level.

Not only did Snyder lie about why he was hiring a criminal defense team, but the heavily redacted emails he released today are all the evidence we need of the truth. He’s paying a high-priced law firm – with money that belongs to the people of Michigan – to protect him from the truth of his role in the Flint water crisis, clearly contained within the documents he’s releasing. Judging by how much information was removed, it’s obvious he’s getting his taxpayer dollars’ worth.

It’s shameful that this governor would go to such lengths to hide the truth from the public, but it’s absolutely criminal that he would lie and use the public’s money to pay for it.

Not only are his newly-hired PR people and attorneys helping him avoid personal scrutiny, as I reported on Tuesday they have crafted a new way to talk about Emergency Managers without actually using the phrase “Emergency Managers”, a title that is now synonymous with the failure of state takeovers of schools and municipalities and the concept of “running government like a business”. They are now calling them “CEOs”.

Gov. Snyder has more money than nearly every other Michigander. Only 4.4% of our residents are millionaires and he is a MULTI-millionaire. The reasons for him being sued are related to HIS mistakes, HIS poor judgment, and HIS failed policies. Asking taxpayers to pay for those lawsuits is beyond the pale and yet here we are, footing the bill for his lawyers.

It’s just one more scandal in a very long line of Snyder scandals, aided and abetted by his Republican colleagues. Don’t forget that in November.

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]