The recent controversy surrounding a shady $20 million grant to an appointee of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is prompting a proposal in Lansing to reward reporters who uncover fraud and waste.

Macomb County Republican state Rep. Joe Aragona told WJBK the work of a reporter with The Detroit News to uncover questionable spending by Detroit businesswoman and Whitmer appointee Fay Beydoun deserves a reward.

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“There was no internal control in Michigan with state government that found it,” he said. “Who found it? It was a news source. So you know what I think we need to do? We need to have a bounty.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is investigating Beydoun at the behest of the FBI over the $20 million grant approved by lawmakers in 2022 to launch the nonprofit business accelerator Global Link International.

The Detroit News in early April exposed receipts from the taxpayer-funded grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Whitmer appointed Beydoun to the MEDC’s executive committee in 2019, a role she held until April 5.

“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.”

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The revelation prompted questions from several legislative Republicans who demanded answers MEDC has yet to provide. Beydoun, a Democratic donor who sent $750 to Nessel’s political campaign and formerly served as vice chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, has defended the spending and alleged she has 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.

While MEDC officials told The News they won’t scrutinize Beydoun’s expenses until she’s blown through at least half of the grant, CEO Quentin Messer issued a letter announcing “additional review” procedures for grant expenditures of more than $200,000 per quarter.

The situation prompted Aragona to draft a bill to pay reporters for uncovering alleged abuse, and he told WJBK he’s already secured several co-sponsors to support of the move.

“If a news source finds a waste of taxpayer money that has been frivolously spent like that, in a manner that it shouldn’t be, then the news source, I believe, needs to get a cut – maybe 10%,” he said.

The Michigan Press Association is resisting the idea over concerns it could politicize reporting, while others suggest taxpayers may not approve, WJBK reports.

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.

Whitmer’s office defended the $20 million grant when contacted by The 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.

Republican lawmakers and the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn, meanwhile, are still searching for answers the MEDC has yet to provide.

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 to Global Link International, which Beydoun incorporated 10 days after the grant’s approval.

“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 News. “And we hope the MEDC is making sure there is a return on investment for taxpayers.”

White Lake Republican Sen. Jim Runestad told said MEDC officials “didn’t answer any” of his specific questions about the grant.

“The MEDC must answer for the negligence and corruption demonstrated by this grant,” Runestad said in a statement last month. “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.”