LANSING, MI: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has brought in communications reinforcements for the water crisis in Flint.
The governor’s office has hired Mercury, as well as Finn Partners’ Bill Nowling, according to the Detroit Free Press. (The report pointed out that Snyder’s chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, is married to Bettina Inclan-Agen, a Mercury SVP in Florida).
Nowling has a long history of crisis communications work in the state, including nearly two years as communications director for Detroit’s emergency manager as the city went through bankruptcy proceedings. He was also Snyder’s communications director during his gubernatorial bid, according to his LinkedIn account.
Nowling joined Finn Partners in late 2014.
Dave Murray, Snyder’s press secretary, said in an emailed statement that "every resource is being brought to bear on helping the people of Flint, and that includes the additional communication help we've brought in."
"Everyone is focused on Flint and helping its residents," he said. "Our focus is on helping the people of Flint. Period."
Nowling said the governor’s staff asked Finn Partners to help the state with its operational response in Flint and to coordinate comms and messaging among agencies. He added that his experience working with the state’s media and government could be beneficial.
The timeline for the firm's support is "go until the work is done," said Nowling, who added that payment will come from a "private nonprofit."
A Mercury representative were not immediately available for comment.
Nearly two years ago, Flint began using water from the Flint River instead of getting its water from Detroit. Recently, researchers have found elevated lead levels in the water supply and tests have found significantly elevated lead levels in children.