Lieutenant governor: AG’s Flint probe ‘gross abuse of power’

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2017, file photo, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley speaks at the GM-Honda Next Generation Fuel Cell news conference in Detroit. Second-term Gov. Rick Snyder's impending departure under term limits has led four Republicans and three Democrats into a battle to follow him. The GOP field includes three candidates with elective experience _ state Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck _ and one newcomer, Dr. Jim Hines. Calley is running on Michigan's economic turnaround under Snyder's watch, while rival Schuette is touting a proposed income tax cut and his support from President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

By DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press
LANSING — Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Wednesday escalated his criticism of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s prosecution of top state officials for the Flint water crisis, calling it a “gross abuse of power” intended to aid Schuette’s run for governor.
The comments from Calley, who also is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, were the strongest to date from Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.
The investigation has led 15 current or former government officials to be charged, including two members of the term-limited governor’s Cabinet — Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells. Lyon’s probable cause hearing on manslaughter and other charges began seven months ago. Wells’ hearing started in November.
If the judges rule there is probable cause that crimes were committed, Lyon and Wells will go on trial.
“The further the trials go on the more obvious it becomes that they are show trials. They’re political stunts and it is a gross abuse of power,” Calley told The Associated Press in a phone interview on the four-year anniversary of Flint’s fateful municipal water switch. He cited how two “heroes” who helped expose the lead-contaminated water in 2015 — Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards and Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha — were recently called to testify on behalf of Wells and Lyon.
“It brings into focus that much more clearly how political this whole process has been,” he said. “The fact that it is taking this much just to get by the extraordinarily low legal hurdle of a preliminary exam should tell us something. I believe that these processes have been dragged out because they thought it was going to be a popular election-year process.”
A Schuette spokeswoman declined comment, saying it would be improper to do so since the cases are before judges. Schuette previously has pushed back against such criticism, saying he is enforcing the law and that Flint residents who were poisoned by lead in their water or who died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak deserve their day in court.