Oversight Republican threatens to have US marshals 'hunt down' Flint witness

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzSunday shows preview: Parsing the war of words The Hill's 12:30 Report Watchdogs warn of 'serious' conflicts of interest for Clinton Foundation MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday slammed federal and state officials who refused to testify on the Flint, Mich., water crisis, announcing subpoenas and vowing to "hunt down" those officials to compel them to appear before his panel. 

The committee invited three officials — Miguel Del Toral, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water official, former EPA regional head Susan Hedman and former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley — to testify before the oversight panel on Wednesday. 

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All three declined. Chaffetz said he accepted Del Toral’s decision not to appear, noting that he is helping lead on-the-ground response efforts in Flint right now. The EPA will turn over Del Toral’s emails by the end of the week. 

But Hedman and Earley, he said, should have appeared.

Hedman was the regional director for the EPA when the water issues in Flint came to light; she resigned her position last month. Chaffetz said he issued a subpoena on Wednesday for her deposition.

Earley, Michigan Gov. Rick Sndyer’s (R) former emergency manager for Flint, also declined to testify, citing his new role as emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools. 

Chaffetz said he, too, should have come shown up to testify. He issued a subpoena earlier this week, but his attorney refused to service it, telling the Detroit News that it came in too late at night on Tuesday to facilitate a trip to Washington.

So, Chaffetz said Wednesday, the committee would issue a new subpoena, and “we are calling on the U.S. marshals to hunt him down and give him that subpoena.”

“Participation before this committee is not optional,” he said. “When you get invited to go before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, you are going to show up.”

Chaffetz’s panel is the first congressional committee to probe the problems in Flint, where lead levels in drinking water have spiked since officials switched from utilizing the Detroit municipal water supply to the Flint River in 2014. 

Members on both sides of the aisle have slammed the state and federal response to the crisis. Though neither were invited, Chaffetz acknowledged that some members had hoped to see EPA administrator Gina McCarthy or Sndyer testify before the committee. 

Committee Democrats said on Wednesday that they would look to compel Snyder to appear before the panel.

“Obviously, Gov. Sndyer should have to answer for his decisions,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the committee. “We want answers from everybody, from the EPA straight on down to the local officials.”