Ex-Michigan governor's electronic devices seized in Flint water probe

(Reuters) - Michigan authorities investigating contamination of the city of Flint’s water supply obtained a search warrant to seize former Governor Rick Snyder’s cell phone and hard drive, according to court documents made public on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifies before a House Oversight and government Reform hearing on "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan, Part III" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The search warrant, signed on May 19 by a state court judge, listed the Republican ex-governor among more than 60 current and former officials whose electronic devices state investigators had sought.

Flint, a predominately black city with a population of about 100,000 people, was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager in April 2014 when it switched its water source to the Flint River from Lake Huron.

The more corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes. In 2015, tests found high amounts of lead in blood samples taken from children and the tainted water was later linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that caused at least 12 deaths.

Some critics of the state’s role in the health crisis have called for high-ranking state officials, including Snyder, to be charged. But Snyder, a former business executive who served two terms as governor from 2011 until Jan. 1, 2019, has said he does not believe he did anything criminally wrong.

The search warrant indicates investigators are closely examining Snyder and more than 30 members of his former administration.


Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud in a statement said a team of prosecutors is aware of “substantial potential evidence” that was not provided to a different team that handled the initial stage of the investigation.

“The (current) team is ... in the process of obtaining this evidence through a variety of means, including search warrants,” Hammoud said.

The Associated Press was first to report on the warrant.

Snyder could not be reached for comment.

The search warrant, which was provided to Reuters by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, listed Snyder’s iPhone, iPad tablet and hard drive as subject of the investigation.

Among the other current and former officials whose devices were listed for seizure in the warrant were people who worked for the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Environmental Quality.

The investigation into the water crisis is continuing as legal cases wind their way through the courts, including criminal cases against several former state and city officials.

To alleviate the health crisis, Flint switched back to Lake Huron water in October 2015, but lead levels remained above federal standards until early 2017.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker