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Michigan lawmaker wants to pay reporters, news organizations to uncover corruption and save taxpayers money

(Center Square) – A Michigan lawmaker wants to pay reporters and news organizations to expose public corruption and save taxpayers money.

Rep. Joseph Aragona, R-Clinton Township, developed the idea after the Detroit News recently revealed questionable spending related to a $20 million grant from businesswoman Fay Beydoun. She was a member of the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the Detroit News first reported the expenses, which included a $4,500 coffee maker, $11,000 for an airline ticket, $100,000 for a sponsorship and $9,400 for annual dues at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has since launched an investigation, and both the House and Senate have voted to withdraw what’s left of the funding.

Rep. Joseph Aragona wants to pay reporters and news organizations to expose public corruption and save taxpayers money. Michigan House Republicans

Aragona sees the idea of ​​rewards for reporters for uncovering misuse of taxpayer funds as a way to promote local journalism.

“Local journalism is dying, which is bad because we need an informed populace and we need independent watchdogs to keep an eye on what the government is doing,” Aragona said.

One item bought with the taxpayer-funded grant was a Jura Diamond White Z10 coffee maker, which cost $4,526 after adding 10 accessories, including a $359 cold control, a $249 cup warmer, $196 filters, 68 USD for descaling tablets, USD 25 for a milk system cleaner. and $50 for a glass milk container.

Attorney General Dana Nessel launched an investigation, and both the House and Senate voted to withdraw what was left of the suspect funding. A?
“Local journalism is dying, which is bad because we need an informed populace and we need independent watchdogs to keep an eye on what the government is doing,” Aragona said. Michigan House Republicans

Other expenses were $21,400 for Wayfair furniture, more than $4,000 in hotel rooms, $3,950 for a recruiter to find a chief of staff and $40,800 for two years of housing.

The grant condition requires an audit only once half of the money is spent.

He said if the state can recoup the unspent portion of the $10 million already handed out and close the rest of the grant, that would be a $19 million savings to taxpayers. And, he believes, 10 percent, or $1.9 million, should go to the Detroit News and the reporters covering the issue.

“The federal government is offering whistleblower rewards,” Aragona said. “Silicon Valley uses large bounties because it’s much cheaper to find vulnerabilities before they’re exploited. The same principle applies here. There are some practical issues to work out, such as how to decide who gets the reward, because stories of consequence usually break in phases, with many contributors relying on earlier reports.”