Governor Shuts Down Hillary Clinton's Claim on Flint Water Crisis

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton / AP
January 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton tried to take credit for pushing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R.) to ask for federal funds for the response to ongoing water contamination problems in Flint, but the process of involving the federal government began before Clinton was even talking about Flint.

Clinton said on Sunday morning that it was her interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow during the Republican debate on Thursday night that convinced Snyder to reverse course and get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to join the response effort in Flint.

"As you may know, I appeared on a show this past week and demanded that Gov. Snyder ask for the help that Michigan needs to deal with the horrible consequences that children and their families are facing in Flint," Clinton said. "And I saw that Gov. Snyder turned around within two hours and finally asked for the help that he should have asked for some weeks ago."

Snyder's staff, however, told the Washington Examiner that the governor had already requested FEMA assistance days before Clinton's appearance and was, believe it or not, not watching MSNBC for the interview.

"Gov. Snyder is focused on helping the people of Flint, not politics," Dave Murray, a spokesman for Snyder, told the Washington Examiner of the eastern Michigan town's water contamination crisis. [...]

"Gov. Snyder announced the state was coordinating with FEMA days before and [was] dealing with the crisis on Thursday, not watching political talk shows," he said. "Such comments from political candidates who are not working toward a solution to the problems only serve as a distraction from the vital work that is being accomplished."

Indeed, the Detroit News reported Monday of last week that Snyder had already begun talks with FEMA to secure federal funding for the apparent lead contamination in Flint's water supply. That was three days before Clinton's "Maddow" interview.

Clinton has attempted to turn the Flint water crisis into a winning political issue for her campaign. She quickly dispatched two top campaign officials to meet with Flint's mayor and has discussed the issue publicly multiple times in recent days.

During Sunday night's Democratic debate, Clinton used her closing statement to say that she "spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what's happening in Flint."

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the Clintons had their own water contamination scandal when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas. Nearly 300,000 residents in northwest Arkansas were put at risk of disease due to the entrance of waste from the state's booming chicken industry into the local water supply.

Critics say that Clinton took little action to protect the water supply from chicken waste despite years of reported instances of dysentery and salmonella.