Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has added $1.5 million to his contract with the legal team defending him against any potential criminal charges related to the Flint water crisis.
The State Administrative Board learned about the increase during a meeting on Dec. 20, M Live reported. The cap raise came on the same day the board filed new criminal charges against two former Flint emergency managers appointed by Snyder.
The emergency managers were running Flint before and during the water crisis. The water crisis started when the city changed its water source.
The state Department of Environmental Quality allowed the use of the Flint River as a water source without requiring treatment to protect the city's drinking water from being contaminated with lead, CNN reported. Lead soon started appearing in the city's drinking water.
The contract with the law firm was originally valued at $2 million. The cap increase for Grand Rapids-based Warner Norcross & Judd legal services raises it up to $3.5 million, according to the agenda from the Administrative Board.
"Ongoing legal work is required as we continue to fully comply with the Attorney General's investigation," Anna Heaton, Snyder's press secretary, said in an emailed statement to M Live.
The contract covers Snyder's defense and also allows for "extensive document review and production," Heaton added.
Snyder has been widely criticized for his use of taxpayer dollars to provide for his own criminal defense since the scandal broke out. He told the Administrative Board in August that he was also raising the cap for a contract with another law firm, Detroit-based Barris, Scott, Denn & Driker, from $400,000 to $1.4 million.
Spokesman for Progress Michigan Sam Inglot said any increase in contracts to pay for a governor's attorneys is excessive.
"Rick Snyder unilaterally approved a large increase of taxpayer dollars ... while fighting it out in court not to provide door-to-door water deliveries," Inglot said. That's "a slap in the face to the city of Flint."