Kwame Kilpatrick, who was once the mayor of Detroit, has joined a growing list of politicians, media personalities, and celebrities calling out Michigan Governor Rick Snyder over Flint’s poisoned water crisis. Unlike most of Snyder’s other critics, however, Kilpatrick’s criticism came in the form of a letter written from prison, where Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year sentence.
According to WXYZ in Detroit, the letter was relayed by Kilpatrick’s family in a Facebook post. Among the allegations in the letter, Kilpatrick claims that he, as well as several other prominent Michigan politicians, including former Governor Jennifer Granholm, knew of Flint’s water crisis as far back as 2004.
“When the current Governor of Michigan says that he ‘only recently was made aware of this issue,’ he is being misleading at best,” Kilpatrick wrote.
“But more than likely, he is being viciously, aggressively, and deliberately untruthful… Well, my prayer is that you all will have an opportunity to warm yourselves at the fire of Truth.”
Kilpatrick claims the he tried connecting Flint to the Detroit water system in 2006 but was rebuked by city officials. Michigan Live clarifies that Flint was already connected to Detroit’s water and didn’t begin using the contaminated Flint River as its source until 2014. Flint was reconnected to Detroit in October 2015, but officials are still warning residents not to drink the water because of damage that may have been done to the pipes.
The decision to switch Flint’s water supply to the contaminated river was purportedly intended as a cost-saving measure. However, recently leaked emails obtained by Motor City Muckraker actually show the Detroit connection was cheaper, meaning the decision to switch over to the Flint River had to be about something other than money.
After the switch, Flint residents began showing up to city meetings with bottles of filthy water, and doctors began reporting high concentrations of lead in children’s blood. Governor Snyder eventually issued an apology and blamed others in his administration and in city government for the crisis. He continues to maintain he was unaware of the contamination until recently, a claim Kilpatrick vehemently contests.
Kilpatrick, who is in prison for, among other charges, tax evasion and RICO conspiracy for rigging city contracts in favor of his friend Bobby Ferguson’s company, highlighted the discrepancy in his sentencing with Governor Snyder. Despite numerous calls for his resignation, including from Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, Snyder remains in power.
“I am here in prison, with a 28-year sentence, for a case where there is NO EMBEZZLEMENT, NO MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS, NO BRIBERY, NO STEALING OF ANY MONEY, as a matter of fact, NO PUBLIC MONEY AT ALL. And NO CHARGES THEREOF!” Kilpatrick wrote.
“I wonder how much time you get for knowingly & actually delivering unsafe, dangerous, and poisonous drinking water to the people you represent? Which in-turn causes deaths, permanent illnesses, and disabilities. Can you actually be hated, hurt, and imprisoned for ridiculous rumors about murder…and not be for actually killing people?”
Dave Murray, a spokesman for Governor Snyder, told CBS Detroit that the comments from Kilpatrick “can only serve as a distraction” as Kwame Kilpatrick is “not actively working toward a solution.”
“We are focused entirely on helping the people of Flint and making sure they get the assistance they need now,” Murray said.
In prison since 2013, Kilpatrick recently tried to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his conviction. According to CBS Detroit, Kilpatrick’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court came after a lower federal appeals court expressed no interest in taking a second look at his case. In August 2015, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Kilpatrick’s conviction.
Prosecutors claim Kwame Kilpatrick “created a ‘pay-to-play’ system for the provision of city goods and services, which compromised vast swaths of city government, including the water and sewer system, the convention center, the pension system, casino developments and recreation centers.”
[Photo by Paul Sancya/AP]