press release


News from Progress Michigan

February 3, 2016

Contact: Hugh Madden, 734-250-2070,

Document: Top Snyder Adviser Warned About Deadly Legionnaires Outbreak in March 2015

Email to Harvey Hollins shows officials concerned about Flint River as source of drinking water 10 months before state went public

LANSING — An email obtained by Progress Michigan shows that Harvey Hollins, a principal adviser to Governor Rick Snyder, was aware of an uptick in Legionnaires disease in Genesee County and that a county health official was attributing the cases directly to the Flint River as the source of drinking water in Flint.

The email, sent to Hollins by former DEQ Communications Director Brad Wurfel, was sent on March 13, 2015 ten months prior to Governor Snyder informing the public. Governor Snyder claimed he had only recently been informed of the outbreak at his press conference in January.

“For months the public has been asking Governor Snyder what he knew and when he knew it regarding the Flint crisis and this email shows that one of his top aides was aware nearly a year ago that county health officials were concerned that the switch to the Flint River could be potentially deadly,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “If you thought it was bad last week when the administration was trucking in clean water for state employees while denying Flint residents’ claims that the water was bad, the fact that they potentially ignored information about people dying as a result of the switch is beyond comprehension. Are we to believe that a top staffer with years of experience would not inform Governor Snyder of a possibly deadly situation? Either the governor is covering up his knowledge of this crisis or his governing culture does not allow for important information to flow from his top advisers to his desk.”

Bullet points in the email report “a significant uptick – more than all the cases in the last five years or more combined,” as well as the fact that the uptick occurred at the point where the city switched to the Flint River as a source of drinking water.

Progress Michigan was not able to obtain emails showing whether or not Hollins informed the governor as the governor’s office is exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“How many times is the Governor allowed to say that he didn’t know before we get to legitimately ask who the hell is running this state? This is just the latest example of why we need FOIA reform to end the exemption that shields the governor’s office and legislature,” Scott continued. “Until the public is able to review all of the documents related to the Flint Water Crisis, we will not know exactly why this crisis occurred and how it can be addressed going forward. The governor needs to order the release of all of the emails related to Flint from his staff immediately.”

A copy of the email exchange can be found below or at this link.


Wurfel to Hollins Email – Legionnaires by progressmichigan

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