Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Flint Water Crisis and Bill Schuette’s Appointed Special Counsel



In late January, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appointed Todd Flood and Andrew Arena as special counsel to investigate the Flint water crisis. Flood is a former US Attorney and currently has a law office in Royal Oak. Arena is a former FBI special agent in charge of the Detroit office and the current executive director of the Detroit Crime Commission.  Schuette appointed the special counsel to create a firewall to avoid questions of “potential conflicts of interest”. Schuette will be defending the state against any lawsuit Flint residents bring against the state. However, the move by Schuette leaves questions.

Governor Rick Snyder and Bill Schuette are longtime members Romney political machine. Schuette served as Michigan State Chairman for Mitt Romney’s presidential run in 2012. When Schuette ran for reelection in 2014, Mitt Romney headlined a fundraiser for Bill Schuette in Oakland County, Michigan. Governor Snyder and Romney are also buds from Mitt’s days as head of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Is the appointed special counsel to avoid conflicts of interest?

Todd Flood was a major contributor to Bill Schuette’s run for attorney general. Flood also formed of the Detroit Crime Commission. After Flood held a planning meeting at the posh Detroit Athletic Club with several unidentified prominent Detroit attorneys and area law enforcement personnel, the non-profit commission was incorporated. The Detroit Athletic Club is an elite club with a ballroom, excellent cuisine and, of course, somewhere there is a gym. Unnamed sources made donations tallying up to nearly one million dollars as seed money to begin the commission. After retiring from the FBI, Andrew Arena became the commission’s first executive director.

Did Todd Flood create the Detroit Crime Commission to protect the public’s interest?

Todd Flood formed the commission after helping a friend track down bad checks passed to his friend’s business.  In an article from Crain’s Detroit Business, a focus of the newly formed Detroit Crime Commission was a ‘nuisance abatement lawsuits on an owner of an apartment building’ in Midtown Detroit. Flood’s law firm acted as a pro bono attorney for the Detroit Crime Commission’s lawsuit against Gormar, the Midtown apartment owner.  Under nuisance abatement, properties in specific Detroit areas are targeted and owners must renovate or lose their property to the Detroit Land Bank. A target area for the commission is Midtown.

Who is buying up properties in Detroit and Midtown?  According to Michigan Radio, Dan Gilbert, Michael Ilitch and Matty Moroun are the main buyers.

Dan Gilbert is a Romney associate and political contributor. Mitt’s Romney oldest brother, Detroit attorney Scott Romney, came under heat from a Sault Saint Marie Indian tribe that owned the Greektown Casino. Scott Romney while acting as legal counsel for the tribe turned down a lucrative offer for the casino the tribe was attempting to sell.  The tribe ended up losing the Greektown Casino and Dan Gilbert purchased the casino for a song-and-dance when the casino went into bankruptcy.

Andrew Arena isn’t the only former FBI special agent living in the metro area. Daniel Roberts is a former special agent in charge posted to the Detroit office before he left for Washington D.C. as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division for the FBI. Roberts is currently the Franklin Village Chief of Police, the town where Dan Gilbert has his residence. There is also, Rick DeLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI after retiring came to Detroit to work for Roger Penske. Penske is also a Romney insider. As readers may recall, Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts and lived just outside of Boston. Romney maintains a condominium outside of Boston since leaving the office of governor.

In 1978, James Hougan wrote the following observation:
“The point is that the federal intelligence complex serves as a kind of tax-supported university for industrial spooks, a place where investigators are trained in clandestine crafts to be used against hostile nations and organized crime – but which, eventually, are brought to bear against private citizens, business competitors and even the government itself. “

While I was thinking about all of this, a 60 Minutes program aired on attorneys who help clients launder money through the United States. One of the attorneys in the 60 Minutes segment openly bragged that attorneys run America. Marc Koplik, an ethically challenged attorney featured during the 60 Minutes investigative report, boasted he was not worried about government subpoenas. Koplik said, “They don’t send lawyers to jail because we run the country.” When asked, “Do you run the country?” Koplik replied, “Still do.…. We’re still members of a privileged, privilege class in this country….  We make the laws, and when we do so, we make them in a way that is advantageous to the lawyers.”

Koplik statement raised a question to me, exactly what are the objectives of the attorneys that formed the Detroit Crime Commission?  Are those objectives in the public’s best interest?

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