Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley called charges against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder a “step in the right direction” to restoring confidence in elected officials. Snyder and eight others arerelated to the Flint water crisis.
The charges show “no one is above the law,” Neeley told CBSN anchor Tanya Rivero on Thursday. “We have people who have been impacted negatively by their failures. They will be held accountable.”
A 2016 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed at least 12 people has been attributed to the water crisis, which began in 2014.
“It’s been a big crisis in confidence as it relates to government and government officials,” Neeley said of the ramifications of the city’s drinking water being contaminated with lead and the government’s handling of it.
Snyder was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty for “failing to protect the health and safety” of the city’s residents. The former governor faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine if he’s convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Snyder’s lawyer, Brian Lennon, has called the charges “an outrageous political persecution.” “Today’s charges do nothing to bring justice to the people of Flint,” Lennon said in a statement Thursday.
Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud said no one charged was “unfairly targeted” or received special treatment.
“There are no velvet ropes in our criminal justice system. Nobody, no matter how powerful or well-connected, is above accountability when they commit a crime,” Hammoud said in a news conference Thursday. “Just as no one in this case was unfairly target, no one was given any special passes or privileges.”