A special investigator for the Michigan Attorney General’s office said six state employees who were criminally charged today hid and manipulated data last summer that showed a change in drinking-water sources was poisoning people here.
Liane Shekter-Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook worked for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services last summer and are charged in the case filed this morning in Flint District court.
The Health and Human Services employees “effectively buried” research indicating high lead levels in children’s blood from July through September 2014 could be connected to the switch in water sources and needed further research, Seipenko said.
The epidemiologist researching the tests wasn’t yet finished with her report when Peeler and Scott “worked together to produce a graph of elevated blood levels without applying any statistical method. Peeler, relying on this unscientific graph, drafted and sent (an) unfounded email to MDHHS management (that) inappropriately concluded that the switch of water sources was not the cause of elevated blood levels within the children,” Seipenko said.
Peeler was manager of the Early Childhood Health section of MDHHS, and Scott is acting coordinator and data manager for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at the MDHHS. Miller was director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention at MDHHS, Seipenko said.
Smith faces charges of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Cook is charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Rosenthal is charged with misconduct office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence or engage in misconduct in office, and tampering with evidence as a public officer engaged in a willful neglect of his duty.
Peeler, Miller and Scott are charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.
These do not appear to particularly high level employees.
Ignoring these results was clearly a directive made at a more senior level, probably at the level of Governor Rick Snyder’s cabinet, but I see no evidence of a higher level investigation so far.
It’s pretty clear that his office had to be involved in authorizing the cover up.