Michigan Republicans are pressing for answers about an FBI referral to investigate an appointee of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over a shady $20 million grant and questionable spending that included a $4,500 coffeemaker.

In early April, The Detroit News exposed receipts tied to a $20 million taxpayer-funded grant awarded to Detroit businesswoman Fay Beydoun, ostensibly to launch the nonprofit business accelerator Global Link International. Beydoun was appointed by Whitmer to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s executive committee in 2019 and served in that role until April 5.

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“Beydoun spent about $800,000 through December of the first $10 million tranche of the grant,” according to the news site. “Among her expenses were a $4,500 coffeemaker, an $11,000 first-class plane ticket to Budapest, more than $40,000 in furniture and $408,000 in salary costs for two people over a three-month period.”

The revelation prompted questions from several Republicans in the Legislature who demanded answers from MEDC that have so far gone unanswered. Beydoun, a Democratic donor and former vice chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, has defended the spending and alleged she’s secured millions in commitments for a business retention and attraction fund, according to the News.

“My intentions have always been to strengthen Michigan’s global footprint and attract businesses to the state of Michigan from all over the world,” she told the news site.

MEDC officials told the media the state would not review Beydoun’s grant expenditures until after the first $10 million was spent.

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed last week her office launched an investigation into the spending for Global Link International, which was not incorporated until 10 days after the legislature appropriated the $20 million grant in 2022.

The motivation behind the investigation into Beydoun, who contributed $750 to Nessel’s political campaign between 2021 and 2022, came to light on Tuesday.

“The Detroit News just revealed that the reason Attorney General Dana Nessel opened an investigation into a $20 million grant given to a Whitmer appointee was because of a referral from the FBI,” Rep. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, said in a Thursday statement. “What we know is that a Whitmer appointee used taxpayer money to buy a $4,500 coffeemaker after receiving a $20 million grant from the state. But we don’t know yet why the grant, which was the result of secret budget negotiations, was approved in the first place.”

Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, and others have attempted to get answers to specific questions about the grant from the MEDC without success.

“They didn’t answer any of them, not one of them,” he told The News.

“The MEDC must answer for the negligence and corruption demonstrated by this grant,” Runestad said in a statement. “This is supposed to be an organization that builds Michigan’s economy — instead, what we are seeing is a grave misuse of funds to support its board members’ own living standard.”

Republican Rep. Donni Steele told CBS News she’s “not convinced that the SOAR [Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund] funds and the MEDC and the corporate welfare and the handouts and the tax incentives are helping Michigan residents.”

Instead of providing answers to lawmakers, MEDC CEO Quentin Messer issued a letter alleging the agency was limited in how it awards and monitors grants by the legislature, but nonetheless announced “additional review” procedures for grant expenditures of more than $200,000 per quarter.

“This effort will ensure we can undertake impactful, but also realistic compliance across the more than 320 direct legislative grants MEDC is actively administering with our existing compliance personnel resources,” Messer wrote.

Runestad was unimpressed by the “vague” policy and again called on Messer to provide detailed responses about Beydoun’s grant.

“That’s as open-ended as it could be,” he said of the additional MEDC review measures.

Members of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn, meanwhile, are also searching for answers. Beydoun served as executive director for the Chamber when members helped her land the grant in July 2022. Beydoun’s former associates claim she then cut them out of the project after bypassing the state’s typical grant process to secure a direct payment from the Legislature. Beydoun left the Chamber shortly after securing the $20 million grant for Global Link International.

“We’re hoping things become more transparent about how this money is being used to improve the state of Michigan,” Ahmed Chebbani, chairman and co-founder of the AACC, told The Detroit News. “And we hope the MEDC is making sure there is a return on investment for taxpayers.”

Campaign finance records show Beydoun has contributed a total of $9,900 to Whitmer since 2019, when the governor appointed her to the MEDC board.

Her office defended the $20 million grant when contacted by The Detroit News in March as an important effort to “attract international entrepreneurs and companies as part of the state’s broader economic strategy.”

“We continue to land a record number of jobs as we win major projects and bring supply chains home, and hope these efforts will help us create even more jobs,” Whitmer spokesman Bob Leddy said.