The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hit Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for a number of perceived missteps he has made following his congressional testimony on the lead-contaminated water in Flint.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland sent Snyder a letter Thursday expressing concerns that he possibly perjured himself when he told the committee that he's working closely with local leaders such as Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. After that statement, it was disclosed that the governor's office didn't consult Weaver at all about a 75-point plan to help Flint recover from its water crisis.
"Despite your sworn testimony [on March 17], Mayor Weaver reports that you did not seek input from her about your plan before you testified and that you excluded her from meetings with the state officials you charged with developing this plan in the weeks leading up to our hearing," Cummings wrote.
"Your actions raise grave concerns about the accuracy of your testimony before our committee. If you withheld information about your 75-point plan from Mayor Weaver and other local leaders until after your appearance before our committee, that would appear to directly contradict your testimony on March 17."
Cummings asked Snyder to give the committee all emails, communications and other documents relating to how he and his staffers planned, developed and released the state's plan. Cummings added that he wants to see how state officials decided when and how to involve Weaver in the process.
In April 2014, a state emergency manager appointed by Snyder signed off on a symbolic vote from the Flint City Council to change the city's water source. The move aimed to cut costs by requiring the city to take its water from the Flint River instead of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department while a new pipeline was built to connect the city to Lake Huron.
The Flint River water, however, was so acidic that it caused the lead pipes bringing water from the city's cast iron mains into homes to corrode. Lead leached off the pipes and into the drinking water throughout the city.
A state report issued last month blamed the state for the crisis.
Cummings also took issue with Snyder's dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency over a Jan. 21 emergency order that directed the state to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The state disputes that the EPA order is legal.
"As a result, your compliance with that order has also been deficient," Cummings wrote.
Cummings' third complaint with Snyder was that his top officials have not complied with a request from the committee to turn over documents related to the water crisis and to do an interview with the committee.
Snyder has previously said that he encouraged other staff members to talk with the oversight committee, but many of the officials who Cummings would like to speak with are refusing to do so based on legal advice.
However, the lack of compliance from state officials and the failure to involve Flint leaders in the recovery plan shows a troubling pattern, Cummings said.
"Based on this record, it appears that you have learned little from this disaster and that you have changed virtually nothing about your approach," he said.
Ari Adler, a spokesman for Snyder, said the governor received Cummings' letter during a meeting with two top members of Flint's City Council.
Adler said the governor speaks with Weaver and her staff almost every day about the effort to restore Flint's water service and help the town recover.
"We will continue our efforts to ensure an open line of communication continues to be available in both directions between the state and the city as the state works on delivering more than $232 million in state resources that Gov. Snyder has proposed as part of his efforts to solve problems in Flint," Adler said. "We encourage all officials at all levels of government to focus their efforts on delivering the solutions the people of Flint need and deserve."