Michigan Governor’s Responses to Congress Raise New Concerns About His Testimony

May 16, 2016
Press Release

Michigan Governor’s Responses to Congress Raise New Concerns About His Testimony


Snyder Now Admits Emails May Have Been Deleted, Repeatedly Claims He Does Not Recall Basic Facts


Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released written responses Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s to official questions for the record about his testimony before the Committee on March 17, 2016. 

Cummings issued the following 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.”

Cummings previously expressed “grave concerns” about the accuracy of Snyder’s testimony in a letter on April 7.  Snyder claimed under oath that he had been coordinating with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and other local officials.  However, documents obtained after the hearing showed that as Snyder gave that sworn testimony, his top aides had been working behind the scenes on a comprehensive 75 point plan that they withheld from the Mayor until the evening after Snyder testified.  Snyder has produced none of the documents Cummings requested about his actions surrounding these events.

On April 15, 2016, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz sent a letter to Snyder forwarding official “questions for the record” from Committee Members about his testimony in March.  Snyder sent his answers to these questions to the Committee on May 9, 2016, and they are part of the official public record for the hearing.

Snyder’s responses raise even more concerns about the accuracy of his testimony before the Committee.  Some of these concerns are described below.

Governor Reverses Himself and Admits He May Have Deleted Emails During Critical Period

Prior to the hearing on March 17, Snyder’s attorney had informed the Committee that Snyder “periodically reviewed his emails and either put them in folders or deleted them” prior to April 2013.  He explained:  “A litigation hold in connection with a challenge to the EM authority has been in place since April of 2013.”

However, when Snyder was asked at the hearing about his attorney’s statement that he deleted some of his emails prior to April 2013, Snyder contradicted his attorney’s report, stating, “I hope that would have been corrected because that’s not accurate.”

Yet, now, in his official written answers to the Committee’s questions, Snyder admits that his “attorney’s email is accurate” and that his emails prior to April 2013 may not have been preserved.  He also claims that he has “no memory of deleting an email that would be relevant and think it would be unlikely that I did so.”

Governor Repeatedly Claims He Does “Not Recall” Key Facts

Snyder claims he does “not recall” repeatedly in his responses to the Committee’s questions—at least eight times.

Snyder fails to directly answer numerous questions about whether his Chief of Staff informed him of concerns or should have taken action in light of emails that span from October 2014 through August 2015, a critical time period in the Flint crisis.

Snyder claims he doesn’t recall any specific email or letter he was asked about.  He also continues to rely on the fallacy that the local government’s failure to ask for help delayed the State’s response.

Governor Admits He Was Aware of Some Problems With Water

Snyder admits to having general discussions about the following topics:

*  Water Quality Concerns (Fall 2014)

*  Flint Water Concerns and Possible Solutions (February/March 2015)

*  Chief of Staff’s “Creative Options” to Address Water Problems (March 2015)

*  Concerns of Flint Pastors (July 2015)

*  Concerns about Lead (Summer 2015)

*  Concerns with Flint River (August 2015)

Governor Highlights Report Recommending Corrosion Control That He Ignored

Snyder states that the State responded to the crisis by commissioning a report from Veolia.  He fails to mention that Veolia recommended the use of phosphate to control corrosion, but the State ignored that recommendation.

Snyder describes his standard operating procedure for “serious” consideration of proposals to address the water crisis:  “I would have seriously considered the pros and cons of any proposal, and asked for further information or elaboration as needed.”  Yet, he provides no evidence that he seriously considered any proposal to address the water crisis, in spite of the fact that his Chief of Staff raised several proposals with other senior government officials in 2014 and 2015.

To show that he was responsive, Snyder cites the example of filter distribution.  But he fails to mention that the filters were donated by a corporation and that when Director of Urban Initiatives Harvey Hollins told Snyder they had run out of filters and people were going home empty handed, Snyder took no action.

Governor Still Supports Failed Emergency Manager Law

In response to the Committee’s questions about the Emergency Manager law, Snyder says he still believes in the system despite the calamity created by his own Emergency Managers in Flint.

114th Congress