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(This story was updated to include a comment from Whitmer's communications director regarding whether the candidate was suggesting a tax increase.)
FRIDAY, Jan. 13 — Gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer is skeptical of the charges Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has brought against officials in the Flint water crisis.
“I don’t have any confidence in the charges they have brought and the case they have made,” Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said on the “City Pulse Newsmakers” TV show.
“He’s brought charges and made press statements and said more charges are coming,” said Whitmer, an attorney who served as the interim Ingham County prosecutor last year. “There are manslaughter charges coming against Cabinet-level people in the Snyder administration — and then they don’t materialize.”
Schuette is seen as a likely contender for the 2018 Republican nomination for governor, which could pit him against Whitmer, the former Democrat leader of the state Senate.
Whitmer said Schuette’s efforts are not giving the people of Flint what they need right now: clean water.
“What they are doing is going after criminal penalties against a handful of people, spending millions in legal costs,” she said. “You have all these people who still can’t drink their water, yet their taxes are still going to pay all these legal bills for something that hasn’t been one iota of help for them and their daily plight.”
Referring to a former attorney general who was a nationally known consumer advocate, Whitmer said, “Had Frank Kelly still been our attorney general when this Flint water crisis started 1,000 days ago, he’d have been in Flint advocating on behalf of people who were showing up with jugs of brown water. This attorney general didn’t do anything all those months.”
On roads and education, Whitmer suggested that she will propose a tax increase in her campaign. She said she will offer a “bold solution.”
She said Gov. Rick Snyder has “failed to show strong leadership. He pulls money out of the general fund that’s never going to cover the $4 billion that we need in order to make our infrastructure sound, strong and reliable again. It’s going to pit, every single year, roads against schools, roads against corrections, roads against everything else. It’s not a real solution in perpetuity.
“I don’t think we can say we can be leaders in education and we can offer the greatest economic opportunity for everyone in the state unless we invest in ourselves.”
Tonight, Jen Eyer, Whitmer's communications director, complained that saying Whitmer's remarks "suggested" she would propose a tax increase was "unethical" reporting. She said Whitmer did not say she would suggest a tax increase.
Whitmer was not immediately available to comment.
Whitmer’s interview can be seen at lansingcitypulse.com and on My18 TV at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. It can also be heard at 10:30 tomorrow morning on “City Pulse on the Air” on 89 FM The Impact.