Two former emergency financial managers, empowered by state law and appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to run Flint, Michigan, face criminal charges for actions taken during their tenures that prosecutors say contributed to the city’s water crisis, reports the Detroit News. A yearlong Michigan Attorney General investigation into Flint’s water contamination issues has targeted the highest-ranking officials thus far. Yesterday, investigators announced charges against former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, as well as a pair of former city officials. That brings the number of government officials charged in the crisis to 13. The probe also focused the harshest spotlight to date on Michigan’s emergency manager law and Snyder’s use of it.
Attorney General Bill Schuette aired harsh criticisms of the emergency manager system, which empowered Earley and Ambrose with broad authority over Flint to address the city’s crumbling finances, Schuette faulted what he called its “fixation” on financial figures over people as a main factor in creating the city’s long-running water issues. “This fixation has cost lives,” he said. “This fixation came at the expense of protecting the health and safety of Flint. … It’s all about numbers over people.” Earley and Ambrose face felony charges of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses, as well as misconduct in office, a five-year felony. In addition, they face one-year misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty while in office.