LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former prosecutor and a retired head of the Detroit FBI will play key roles in an investigation into Flint’s lead-tainted water as part of an effort to seek answers and prevent potential conflicts of interest, Michigan’s attorney general announced Monday.
Republican Bill Schuette said Todd Flood, a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, will spearhead the investigation and serve as special counsel. He will be joined by Andy Arena, who led Detroit’s FBI office from 2007 until 2012.
“We will do our job thoroughly and let the chips fall where they may. … This investigation is about beginning the road back, to rebuild, regain and restore trust in government,” Schuette said in a statement before Monday’s news conference.
He gave no timetable for the investigation, which he opened more than four months after a Virginia Tech researcher said the Flint River was leaching lead from pipes into people’s homes because it was not treated for corrosion.
The attorney general’s office represents both the people of Michigan and state government, so, he said, the special counsel will help prevent conflicts between Schuette 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 avoid conflicts of interest.
Flood, who’s currently in private practice, said in a statement that it is 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.
“Flint families and Michigan families will receive a full and independent report of our investigation,” Arena said in a statement.
Schuette, a Republican, announced Jan. 15 he would investigate whether any Michigan laws were violated in the process that left Flint’s drinking water contaminated with lead.
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 was not 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.