Peters Profits from Detroit Water

Earns thousands from utility that shuts off water to struggling residents

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / AP
August 26, 2014

Michigan Democrat Gary Peters has earned thousands of dollars from the Detroit water system that has been attacked by many on the left for cutting off water to struggling residents.

Peters, a three-term congressman, has invested between $15,001 and $50,000 in Detroit Water Supply bonds through a trust fund. Those bonds netted him between $1,001 and $2,500 in 2013, according to his most recent campaign finance disclosure, and will earn him thousands more by the time the bonds mature in 2029.

The utility began shutting down water to residents who were behind on their bills in the midst of the record-setting municipal bankruptcy. The city instituted a brief moratorium on shutoffs that kept the water on for all residents. That moratorium ended Monday night, meaning that the city could begin shutting down service to homes that failed to pay 10 percent on their outstanding balance, though some have received an extension until Thursday.

Activists fighting the shutoff have condemned statewide politicians for failing to take the lead on the water showdown. Demeeko Williams, political director of the Detroit Water Brigade, which hands out water to cut off residents, said Peters could send a message by returning his profits to aid needy residents.

"There’s been no leadership, but that would be a start in the right direction," he said.  "These politicians are not being responsible when it comes to Detroit and its citizens.

The water brigade has handed out more than 500,000 cases of water to needy residents dealing with the summer heat since June 1. It has also paid the water balances for more than 50 families, according to Williams.

"There are people who don’t have the means to pay," he said. "Millionaires are trying to get rich off the water system and clean us out."

Peters’ net worth is north of $2 million.

Williams and his group are working to end all water shut offs, but in the meantime will focus on handing out water.

"Payment centers are full of people. The Water Department has made some improvements and I thank them for that, but they need to give people more opportunity to pay," Williams said.

The Peters campaign did not return request for comment.