Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton collaborated with Flint officials in 2016 to create a program designed to help people find work, but there is little evidence the project was successful, according to an analysis from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Flint Water Works initiative was developed to train Flint citizens to distribute water bottles to residents. Clinton championed the program during the 2016 presidential election when she was fending off a surging candidacy from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver supported Clintons presidential bid shortly after the initiative was publicized.
Wealthy Democratic donors J.B. and M.K. Pritzker kickstarted Clintons initiative with a $500,000 donation. The money was eventually directed toward the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, which received more than $22 million in contributions and grants in 2016 and $3 million in 2015, according to the charitys tax documents.
Mott Community College was then tasked with using the donation to train nearly 100 of the citys 10,000 unemployed.
Chelsea Clinton, who collaborated on the project in March of 2016, pushed-back against accusations the jobs program was meant to help her mothers presidential campaign. Sanders, an Independent and self-described socialist, ultimately won Michigan but lost Flint to Clinton.
“For my mother and for me, this is not political,” Chelsea Clinton said during a press conference at the time of announcing the jobs initiative. She was surrounded by young black people who ostensibly stood to benefit from the project. “It is deeply personal,” she added. The initiative received raved reviews from Weaver, who attended the March press conference.
Clinton “came to Flint when the water crisis hit,” the Flint mayor told fellow Democrats in July 2016 during a speech at the Wells Fargo Arena. “She joined with our community groups and our churches. Hillary said, I will do everything I can to help you get back up and to help you get your strength.'”
The program was a success and the initial donation has not yet been depleted, Dartanyan Jamerson, director of workforce development at the Mott Community College Workforce Development Department, assured TheDCNF. Jamerson promised to provide documents April 17 detailing aspects of the program, but the college has been unresponsive to further inquiries.
J.B. Pritzker, who is currently running for governor in Illinois, has not responded to TheDCNFs questions about whether he followed up with the donation. Pritzker and his wife contributed at least $14.7 million to two super political action committees supporting Clintons White House bid, federal records show.
State officials and Flint residents have been struggling to get the small, mostly black towns water system up and running after lead contaminated its water supply. High levels of lead are believed to be a significant contributing factor to outbreaks of Legionnaires disease in the small Michigan city.
Officials switched the small eastern Michigan citys water supply from Lake Huron in 2015 to the Flint River in a bid to save money. But the state applied the wrong regulations and standards for drinking water, which ultimately resulted in corroded pipes. There have been a handful of deaths connected to the crisis.
Media have pilloried federal regulators and state politicians for failing to respond more quickly to the crisis. Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for instance, defended cabinet members in June 2017 currently fighting off manslaughter charges for not notifying citizens of Flints corroded water in time to prevent two deaths related to the crisis.
Snyder, a Republican, was referring to Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells — both of whom he says have his “full faith and confidence.” The two bureaucrats have been instrumental in Flints rehabilitation, Snyder also said.
Environmental Protection Agency was also criticized for not doing more to prevent the problem. The EPA only acts to enforce clean drinking water regulations when public outrage reaches a deafening pitch, implying negligence on the part of agency officials, one report published in March 2017 claims.
Nearly 2,000 citizens of Flint sued the agency for overlooking the problem until it was too late. The EPA failed to take the proper steps to ensure state and local authorities were addressing the crisis, Flint citizens lawsuit claims. The defendants are seeking a civil action lawsuit for $722 million in damages.
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