Timeline: How $25 million deal to ex-House aide raised ‘red flags,’ faltered
Michigan lawmakers approved a $25 million grant for a nonprofit, created by a former legislative aide, to build a health and fitness complex in Clare.
Officials are now holding off on funding that project after questions have been raised by David Coker, the former aide to former state House Speaker Jason Wenworth, and his associate, Anthony Demasi, who has served time in federal prison for defrauding investors.
- Michigan inked $25M grant without vetting ex-aide to House speaker, ex-convict
- Michigan paid $10M before ‘red flags’ froze ex-House speaker’s pet project
- ‘Red flags’ surround $25M health campus pushed by ex-Michigan House speaker
Below is a timeline of the project.
2019-2020: Coker works as an aide to Wentworth, R-Farwell, who at the time was House speaker pro tempore. Wentworth says Coker was fired from his office at some point during that two-year term.
April 28, 2022: Michigan House first adds $25 million grant to budget bill for Clare "health campus pilot project." Wentworth, who is now House speaker, champions the project as a way of bringing "healthcare services, recreation and community events together in one place."
June 2, 2022: Coker files state paperwork to create "Complete Health Park" nonprofit.
July 1, 2022: Michigan Legislature and Gov. Whitmer finalize record $77 billion state budget deal that includes $25 million for the Clare grant along with 140 other earmarks for lawmaker pet projects totaling roughly $1 billion.
July 20, 2022: Whitmer signs budget plan into law.
July 28, 2022: Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit contracts with FED Corp. construction company for $5.4 million to build the proposed health campus. The contract "predated both the execution date and the effective date of the grant agreement with Complete Health Park," according to the state.
Oct 10, 2022: Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit submits a proposal for grant to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Oct. 24, 2022: Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit contracts with Demasi's Goldman Advisors Group for consulting and fundraising assistance for the proposed Clare facility.
Oct. 25, 2022: A Wentworth aide emails a MDHHS legislative liaison saying that "the Speaker is interested in a competitive bidding process to select the best team to move the project forward."
Nov. 9, 2022: Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit submits feasibility study, drafted largely by Demasi's firm, to the state.
Nov. 30, 2022: Anthony Demasi, listed as a program director for the project, files Complete Health Park's official grant application to the state health department.
Dec. 14, 2022: Demasi is indicted by federal grand jury on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly applying for credit cards under the names of employees at his Beta Sole Foundation charity.
Dec. 15, 2022: MDHHS and Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit finalize grant agreement, which is backdated to commence on Dec. 1.
Jan. 6, 2023: The state health department makes first grant payments to Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit for December expenses.
Jan. 12, 2023: Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit uses state grant money to finalize purchase of $3.5 million in land from Clare Northern Group, a company partially controlled by state Rep. Tom Kunse, who succeeded Wentworth in the Michigan Legislature.
Feb. 1, 2023: Coker’s IW Consulting fires Demasi and Goldman Advisors via a “termination of engagement” letter, citing federal indictment. The letter also says his firm has “become aware” of Demasi’s 2010 bank fraud conviction.
Feb. 21, 2023: State Sen. Roger Hauck, through his office, set up the first of two meetings with MDHHS to discuss local concerns about the $25 million Clare project. Kunse, who sold the land, was also involved in those meetings.
March 22, 2023: State health department makes second round of payments to Coker's Complete Health Park nonprofit for February expenses. To date, state payments total $9,988,908.88.
Late March 2023: MDHHS pauses further payments on the $25 million grant, citing "red flags," and requests investigation from the department's internal Office of Inspector General.
March 30, 2023: Demasi’s Goldman Advisors firm sues Coker and his IW Consulting company alleging a breach of contract and making other broad claims about Coker and Wentworth.
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