Democrats at the state Capitol say they plan to put up a fight over spending on criminal defense attorneys for Governor Rick Snyder. Those lawyers are defending him against legal troubles arising from the Flint water crisis.
Democrats say it’s appropriate for the state to pay for legal help to fend off civil lawsuits related to Flint. But state Representative Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) says, if the governor is accused of breaking laws, it should be up to him to pay for his attorneys. “You know, I would suggest the governor do what other elected officials have done and create his own legal defense fund, which the law allows for, and do it that way, and not use our taxpayer dollars for criminal defense lawyers,” said Singh. “He could even go out and seek donations for that fund, but we shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars.”
Last month, a state board approved up to $800,000 to pay for a criminal defense team for the governor. At an event in Flint, Snyder was questioned about the expenditure, and he said it’s appropriate. "Doing this in my capacity as governor,” he said. “And that's the way the process works."
Snyder’s lawyers are private practice attorneys and not provided by the Michigan Attorney General’s office. The state does not typically provide attorneys to public officials accused of breaking the law.