Cummings Pens Op-ed in Detroit Free Press: “What does accountability mean to Snyder?”
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 11, 2016)—Today, the Detroit Free Press ran an op-ed by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, titled “What does accountability mean to Snyder?”
Click here and see below to read the op-ed.
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings: What does accountability mean to Snyder?
Elijah Cummings, Free Press guest writer
February 11, 2016
During Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address last month, he said to the people of Flint: “I let you down. You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know the buck stops here with me.”
He also said this: “For those whose mistakes contributed to this disaster, we are fully cooperating with investigations and will hold those individuals accountable.”
Instead, Snyder is hunkering down, and things are getting worse for him as more information comes out about his administration’s role.
Last week, our committee had to send armed U.S. Marshals to find Snyder's hand-picked former emergency manager for Flint, Darnell Earley, and serve a subpoena on him.
We had invited Earley to testify about his actions — and those of Snyder — but he refused.
One day before our hearing, Snyder announced that Earley would be leaving his current post as the emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools.
It is difficult to believe this was a coincidence.
Why didn’t the Governor direct Earley to cooperate with Congress and testify before our Committee or fire him on the spot?
Earley is a state employee drawing a paycheck for a $225,000 salary — and he will continue doing so until the end of February.
Instead, Snyder coordinated with Earley to issue a glowing press release commending Earley on a “very good job” and thanking him for “his professionalism and his service to the people of Michigan.”
It is possible that Earley would have taken the Fifth before our Committee—and still may. Of course, he has that right under the Constitution. But it is unclear why he is being paid as he avoids responsibility to the people he is supposed to serve.
Why did Snyder allow Earley to evade questions from Congress he may not want to answer?
The people of Flint deserve to know what was said between the Governor’s office and Earley about his resignation and his refusal to cooperate with Congress.
They also deserve to know about the central and critical role Snyder's administration played in this disaster.
He championed the most draconian version of a Michigan law to take over local governments. He appointed the people who switched the city’s drinking water to the Flint River and then failed to implement corrosion controls to prevent lead from leaching into the water from the pipes. And when his agencies detected lead in the water of Flint and in the blood of its children, they failed to act.
To date, Republicans in Congress have refused to invite Snyder to testify, and the Governor refused an invitation from Democrats on Capitol Hill to testify at a hearing this week to answer these questions.
On January 29, I joined Rep. Brenda Lawrence in sending a request to the Governor for key documents, but so far he has remained silent on whether he will produce them.
The Governor did release selected emails from 2014 and 2015, but he omitted everything from 2013, when his own appointee signed off on the fateful decision to use water from the Flint River.
The deadline for producing these documents is Friday, so we will know soon enough whether Snyder’s claims of accountability and cooperation are true.
I have said from the beginning that Congress needs to hear from everyone involved — at the federal, state, and local level.
The EPA is cooperating. They have made witnesses available, they have given us briefings, and they have been producing documents to our Committee.
While his new director of environment quality did talk to the committee, Snyder refuses to testify. He allowed his appointee to evade congressional subpoenas, and has not provided a single document in response to our requests.
How is that accountability?
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, is the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.