Governor Rick Snyder now says it’s possible he deleted some e-mails related to Flint, even though he earlier told a congressional committee that he had not. The governor still insists it’s unlikely he deleted any Flint-related e-mails, it’s just not impossible.
“He just doesn’t think he had anything on that topic and that if it was on that topic, it likely would have been important and probably would have been retained,” said Ann Heaton, the governor’s press secretary.
Heaton says the governor misunderstood the question. And when he answered a question about his e-mails, he was only talking about the period of time after the state was sued over the Flint water crisis.
“There were e-mails that could have deleted prior to April of 2013, which is when the litigation hold started, but he doesn’t recall ever doing so,” she said.
The switch prompted a strong reaction from the ranking Democrat on the US House Oversight Committee, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), who released this statement:
The Governor’s written answers to the Committee raise a whole new set of concerns about the accuracy of his testimony before Congress in March. We already knew his testimony was misleading when he claimed he was working closely with the Mayor of Flint—at the same time he was uttering those words, he was withholding from the Mayor a plan to address the crisis he had been working on for weeks. Now he has reversed his sworn testimony before the Committee and admitted that he did in fact delete some of his emails, and we may never know what they said. Although he claims he was aware of problems with Flint’s water, he repeatedly claims that he can’t recall basic information from that period, and he continues to withhold documents and witnesses from Congress. Despite Governor Snyder’s repeated promises to be transparent and accountable and to cooperate with Congress, his actions are impeding our ability to thoroughly investigate this crisis.
Anna Heaton says it was a simple mistake that the governor corrected. She says Cummings’ statement does nothing for the people of Flint.
“Partisan attacks aren’t helping them get follow-up health care, or blood testing, or clean water,” she said. “It’s just not helpful going forward and the governor’s going to focus on Flint’s recovery.”