Michigan governor sticking to story about Legionnaires'October 11, 2017 8:05pm

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is sticking by his congressional testimony about when he learned about a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease during the Flint water crisis, despite a senior aide's new disclosure that he informed the Republican governor weeks earlier.

Some Democrats in Congress are pouncing on the conflict and urging the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate.

"One thing that all members of this committee — Democrats and Republicans — agree on is that witnesses testifying before us must tell the truth," said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Republican-controlled panel.

It's a crime to lie to Congress if the false statement was made intentionally and was also "material — meaning, roughly, non-trivial," said Darryl Brown, a professor at University of Virginia law school.

"It would definitely be material if a false statement about when he learned of the outbreak covered a period when the government could have done something and they didn't," Brown said.

On the other hand, it's possible Snyder believes "he didn't confirm Legionnaires' or believe it himself until he heard something more definitive in January," Brown said.

Nearly 100 Legionnaires' cases, including 12 deaths, were reported in Genesee County in 2014-15 when Flint was using the Flint River for water. The outbreak wasn't publicly announced until Snyder and his health chief held a news conference in January 2016. It was a remarkable sidebar to Flint's ongoing disaster: a lead-contaminated water supply.

Snyder gave the same timeline when he was summoned to Washington in March 2016 to explain how his administration contributed to the Flint water mess.

"In terms of Legionnaires', I didn't learn of that until 2016. ... That was clearly a case where the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services should have done more to escalate the issue, to get it visible to the public and to me," Snyder told lawmakers.

His words suddenly are being revisited after Harvey Hollins, Snyder's director of urban initiatives, told a judge Friday that he told the governor about Legionnaires' during a phone call before Christmas 2015.

Snyder spokesman Ari Adler declined to comment on the apparent conflict. But he said the governor's testimony was accurate.

"The governor testified under oath to Congress, and he stands by his testimony," Adler told The Associated Press. "If Congress has any questions for him, if we get any questions from the committee, then we'll respond to those as we always have."

There was no immediate comment from the House committee Wednesday.

The Snyder administration's handling of the Legionnaires' outbreak has led to involuntary manslaughter charges against six people, including health department director Nick Lyon, who knew about the outbreak months before the governor. Prosecutors allege that a timely announcement could have saved lives.

Some experts have linked Legionnaires' to Flint's use of the Flint River. It's a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs.

The governor hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing in the Flint water investigation, which goes beyond Legionnaires' and includes how the city became poisoned with lead while it was being run by state-appointed managers. More than a dozen people have been charged.

In June, Attorney General Bill Schuette said many "angry, frustrated" people have urged him to go after Snyder. But he said he has no evidence of a crime.


David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this story.


Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, Glenn Chin, supervisory pharmacist at the now-closed New England Compounding Center, leaves  federal court after attending the first day of his trial in Boston. Closing arguments are expected Thursday, Oct. 19. Chin is charged with second-degree murder and other crimes under federal racketeering law for his role in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 76 people and sickened hundreds of others. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Jurors to begin deliberating in meningitis outbreak case
Law provides health benefits to volunteer NY firefightersNew York volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers will be eligible for health care benefits under a new state law
FILE - In a Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 file photo, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters while heading to vote on budget amendments, in Washington. Rep. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, announced in a statement to media his bid to succeed Republican Bob Corker in the U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Former lawmaker announces bid for Tennessee US Senate seat
California company recalls vegetables over listeria fearsA California company has voluntarily recalled packaged vegetables distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada because of possible bacterial contamination
FILE- In this file photo from July 7, 2017, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R- Pa., speaks at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Pittsburgh site, in South Park Township, Pa. Pennsylvania will hold a special election March 13, 2018, to complete the term of Murphy, an anti-abortion lawmaker who resigned after his hometown newspaper revealed he had suggested a mistress get an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Special election set to fill anti-abortion lawmaker's seat
Ex-US official: I didn't view Menendez remarks as a 'threat'A former State Department official has testified he didn't interpret remarks by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez about a Dominican Republic port security contract held by his co-defendant as a threat
This component is currently unavailable.

Related Searches

Related Searches