Michigan Governor Rick Snyder talks to reporters during the press preview for the 2016 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall, Jan. 12, 2016 in Detroit, Mich. 
Photo by Paul Warner/Getty

Newly released emails cast Flint scandal in a new light

Updated
The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/20/16, 9:58 PM ET

Snyder e-mails missing key year in Flint toxic water disaster

Rachel Maddow reports on the release of hundreds of pages of e-mails from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder that show the Snyder administration’s awakening to the Flint toxic water crisis, but points out that key decisions about Flint’s water supply…
In his State of the State address this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) apologized publicly for the water crisis in Flint, conceded that he let the community down, and vowed to try to put things right. And to that end, the Republican governor released 274 pages of emails yesterday, which Snyder says represents all of the Flint-related correspondence he had in 2014 and 2015.
 
This may not be adequate. As the governor’s office has already acknowledged, the decision to switch Flint’s water source away from Detroit, for example, was made in June 2013. In other words, as Rachel noted on last night’s show, the key decisions were made before the time period reflected in Snyder’s emails.
 
When The Rachel Maddow Show asked the governor’s office whether the Flint-related emails from 2013 would also be publicly released, Snyder aides were non-committal.
 
Meanwhile, the materials that have been released are serious enough that Snyder may owe the public another apology or two. The New York Times reported this morning:
A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an “anti-everything group.” Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a “political football.” And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as “data,” in quotes. […]
 
[T]he documents provide a glimpse of state leaders who were at times dismissive of the concerns of residents, seemed eager to place responsibility with local government and, even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it.
In one particularly damning email from late September 2015, the governor’s then-chief of staff said he couldn’t “figure out why the state is responsible” for the Flint crisis.
 
Perhaps because Flint was under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the governor? Because state officials were responsible for policymaking decisions in the city of Flint? Because those officials did not report to the city’s residents, but rather, reported only to Rick Snyder?
 
As for the national reaction to the crisis, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz was willing to say the crisis in Flint is a “travesty” and the result of officials’ “ineptitude.”
 
Those comments, however, were more the exception than the rule. Most of the GOP presidential field has remained silent on Flint – Marco Rubio acted this week as if he had no idea what the story is even about – in ways that seem plainly indefensible.
 
Matt Latimer, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, condemned their silence in an op-ed today, and contrasted Republicans’ indifference with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders speaking out forcefully on the issue.
 
 

Flint, Marco Rubio, Michigan, Rick Snyder and Water

Newly released emails cast Flint scandal in a new light

Updated