A coded email sent by a consultant to a policy adviser for Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was used to “conceal” certain information related to the state’s handling of a local water crisis from becoming public knowledge, according to a lawsuit filed by residents of Benton Harbor.
Andrew Leavitt, who once served as a consultant to Michigan’s energy department, used letters from the Greek alphabet to send the September 2021 email to Kara Cook, Whitmer’s senior energy adviser, the class action lawsuit alleges.
“Hot off the presses. As I warned there are some major red flags. It seems like we are back at square one having not learned from Flint,” reads the decoded email, which was first reported Wednesday by the Washington Free Beacon.
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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images / File)
Highlighting his use of the Greek alphabet in the email, the court filing noted that Leavitt’s action “appears to be calculated to conceal the statements.” The filing also noted that Leavitt “prefaced his grave concerns about the water crises with a reference back to his prior warnings and the State and City Defendants’ failure to learn from the Flint tragedy.”
Leavitt, whose email to Cook related to a lead water crisis in Benton Harbor, previously served as a consultant for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
With the email being written in Greek, it would have been omitted from public records requests for government communications that contained certain words like “Flint” or “red flags.”
The coded email was not discovered until the discovery phase of the lawsuit, which was filed in November 2021 by residents of Benton Harbor against Whitmer, the state of Michigan, the city and others.
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Volunteers distribute bottled water to residents at Abundant Life Church of God in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on Oct. 19, 2021. (Matthew Hatcher / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Had the state government not been sued, the Beacon reported that it likely would never have discovered the email because Michigan’s public records department cannot electronically search for records containing Greek letters.
The lawsuit from the residents in the city came after the water system in Benton Harbor, according to the outlet, “for years exceeded federal standards for lead contamination.”
The plaintiffs argue that “despite having clear information that there were increasing levels of lead in Benton Harbor’s municipal water, State and City Defendants lied to residents that the tap water was safe and recommended remediation measures that they knew were ineffective.”
Whitmer said this year that she has “always supported enhanced transparency when it comes to the government,” but she has yet to use her power to reverse a policy that allows her office to circumvent Freedom of Information Act requests by the public.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer began her second term as Michigan’s governor in January. (AP Photo / Al Goldis / File)
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“It’s fitting that Gretchen Whitmer’s deep-seated corruption was exposed on the same day that she addressed the state touting her commitment to clean water and transparency. She was caught putting her political career ahead of the health and safety of vulnerable Benton Harbor residents. Her own administration indicted Rick Snyder for similar actions,” Tudor Dixon, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, told Fox News Digital.
Whitmer began her second term as Michigan’s governor in January.