FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
January 21, 2016
Documents: Snyder Chief of Staff Met with Flint Residents About Lead in August
No mention of August meeting in Snyder’s emails or SOTS timeline; all emails must be released
LANSING — Documents obtained by Progress Michigan, a government watchdog group, reveal that Governor Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore met with Flint residents regarding a positive lead sample on August 4, 2015 — nearly two months before Snyder claims to have known about the lead crisis. The meeting was not referenced in the emails released by Gov. Snyder on January 20th or the timeline released by his administration after his State of the State address.
Snyder claims to have first heard about the lead crisis on October 1, 2015.
The documents include an internal timeline from a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employee showing that a meeting with Flint residents took place and a follow-up email from Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards was sent regarding the invalidation of a positive lead sample by the MDEQ that was discussed in that meeting.
In an email dated November 3, 2015, which was sent to several MDEQ employees, a timeline is laid out of the Flint Water Crisis dating all the way back to 1967. In that timeline, there is an August 4, 2015 event labeled: “Meeting with city representatives at Governor’s office.” No other details are provided.
In another document, an October 15, 2015 email from Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards to then-MDEQ Director Dan Wyant, which was forwarded by Dennis Muchmore to other MDEQ employees, states:
“On August 4th your employee’s Wurfel, Busch and Shekter Smith met with Melissa and Lee-Anne. According to Melissa and Lee-Anne, in a meeting with the governor’s Chief of Staff, your employees could not explain to them, why Lee-Anne’s samples were invalidated.”
Edwards’ email goes on to say that the MDEQ botched lead sample testing in Flint homes.
There is no mention of such a meeting taking place in the emails released by Gov. Snyder on Wednesday, nor is there mention of it in the timeline he released during his State of the State address.
Flint residents Melissa Mays and Lee-Anne Walters have been active on speaking out about the Flint Water Crisis. Melissa Mays recently spoke at a Flint Water Rally outside the Michigan Capitol Building before attending Gov. Snyder’s State of the State as a guest of a Democratic elected official.
“The failure to disclose this meeting in August involving his most senior staffer calls Snyder’s entire timeline of events into question and the fact that the emails he released yesterday have nothing regarding it speaks volumes,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Did Snyder know about this August meeting? If he did, why hasn’t he disclosed that to the public? We will never know until he releases all emails from his office, including those of Dennis Muchmore.”
Gov. Snyder indicated that he would not release the emails of his staffers because they were protected by “the umbrella and shield” of the FOIA exemption enjoyed by his office.
“It took months for the Governor to attempt to ‘shield’ the children of Flint from lead poisoning, and yet, he is hell-bent on protecting staff that serve at his pleasure from having their government emails released,” Scott continued. “Gov. Snyder expects us to believe that his Chief of Staff would convene a meeting regarding lead in Flint’s drinking water and not brief his boss for months after the fact? The only way to know the truth is for Gov. Snyder to order the release of all emails and documents related to this crisis. Furthermore, the legislature should immediately pass FOIA reform that ends the exemption for the Governor’s office and the Michigan Legislature.”
The emails can be read below.