Brett Favre to repay $1.1 million in federal welfare funds after Mississippi spending scandal
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre will repay the $1.1 million in federal welfare funds that he received from the state of Mississippi, days after an audit revealed that tens of millions intended for the state's poor were instead spent on lobbyists, concerts and sports tickets.
"Today my office has received $500,000 from Brett Favre in repayment for TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] money he was paid through MCEC and a commitment to repay the remainder in installments over the next few months ..." Mississippi State Auditor Shad White said in a statement cited by CBS Jackson, Mississippi, affiliate WJTV. "I want to applaud Mr. Favre for his good faith effort to make this right and make the taxpayers and TANF families whole."
The audit on Monday revealed that the Mississippi Department of Human Services gave $98 million in welfare funds, most of which came from the TANF program, to two nonprofits. Those nonprofits spent the funds on a number of programs that didn't actually benefit the poor.
"If there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it," White said in a statement on the day the audit was released. He added that the report "shows the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers at the Office of the State Auditor."
That included two payments, totaling $1.1 million, to Favre Enterprises. The money was intended to fund three speaking engagements, one radio appearance and one keynote address — but the audit said "a cursory review" showed Favre didn't attend any of the events.
White emphasized that Favre has not been accused of any wrongdoing. "To date, we have seen no records indicating Mr. Favre knew that TANF was the program that served as the source of the money he was paid," he said.
Favre weighed in on Twitter on Wednesday night, writing, "My agent is often approached by different products and brands for me to appear in one way or another. This request was no different, and I did numerous ads for Families First."
"I have never received monies for obligations I didn't meet," Favre added. "To reiterate Auditors White's statement, I was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that I am refunding the full amount back to Mississippi."
"I have spent my entire career helping children through Favre 4 Hope donating nearly $10 million to underserved and underprivileged children in Mississippi and Wisconsin," he said. "It has brought a ton of joy to my life, and I would certainly never do anything to take away from the children I have fought to help! I love Mississippi and I would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most."
Six people have faced criminal charges stemming from the alleged scheme. All have pleaded not guilty.
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