Claw back grant used to buy $4,500 coffeemaker

Let’s put in perspective that $4,500 coffeemaker purchased by a politically connected recipient of a $20 million state economic development grant.

While it’s a teeny drop in the $80.7 billion state budget, the purchase price of the fancy brewer took every dime of the state income taxes paid by two median income Michigan households, based on a Forbes analysis of the state tax burden.

So, two families worked an entire year so Fay Beydoun could sip only the finest cup of Joe.

Beydoun is a Democratic donor and appointee of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who in 2022 secured a $20 million grant for an entity that didn’t even exist when lawmakers approved the expenditure.

In fact, Beydoun didn’t even have a complete business plan for Global Link International, which was supposed to be a business accelerator to bring jobs and investment into Michigan. And still the Legislature gave her the money.

No bank would have been so cavalier in its lending practices.

The grant smacked of cronyism from the beginning, given Beydoun’s connections and the fact that the $20 million came as a direct payment from the Legislature that bypassed the normal grant-making process.

Beydoun was on the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is supposed to oversee the grant. The Detroit News reported Beydoun has spent $800,000 of the first $10 million installment of the grant.

Along with the fancy coffee pot, Beydoun also spent $408,000 over three months on salaries and one employee; $11,000 on a single plane ticket to Budapest (a first-class coffee drinker can’t be expected to fly coach), and $100,000 to sponsor an event by a Michigan business founders group.

She was executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn when she received the grant. Officials of the business group are still asking questions about why the money went to her instead of the chamber.

It’s a good question.

The $20 million Beydoun received was part of a shadowy, closed-door $1 billion spending spree by the Legislature at the end of the budgeting process. The governor and lawmakers decided to spend the surplus funds rather than return the money to taxpayers.

Even while they were pork-barreling, Whitmer was busy clawing back a miniscule income tax break triggered by the influx of excess funds.

Now, she should direct lawmakers and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the grant, to retrieve any money Beydoun hasn’t spent from the first $10 million and stop payment on the second installment.

The purpose of the grant is still poorly defined, and whatever it turns out to be, Beydoun does not appear to have put together an adequate infrastructure for carrying it out.

Her early stewardship of taxpayer dollars has been dismal. She shouldn’t be allowed to spend any more of it on expensive appliances, or anything else.

And taxpayers should remember how their money was misused the next time the governor and Legislature come around asking for more.

— The Detroit News


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