NFL legend Brett Favre was questioned by the FBI in a scandal of misappropriated welfare funds in Mississippi.
The state of Mississippi gave Favre $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 to deliver speeches. Not only did the Hall of Fame quarterback not give them, but the money was drawn from federal welfare funds.
Consequently, Mississippi’s state auditor forced Favre to return the money, with interest. Favre has repaid the $1.1 million, but not the $228,000 interest as of yet.
Favre’s lawyer Bud Holmes told NBC News that Favre was questioned by the FBI in the case. The lawyer denied wrongdoing on Favre’s part, telling the outlet that Favre had no knowledge that the money he was paid had been diverted from money that was supposed to go to disadvantaged families. Favre has not been accused of committing a crime in the case.
Favre also lobbied for a multi-million dollar grant for a drug company in which he was the biggest shareholder, and $5 million for a new volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter was on the team and the elder Favre played football in college.
Text messages surfaced during the scandal that showed Favre asking an official from the drug company Prevacus, saying, “Don’t know if legal or not but we need cut him in.” The text message allegedly referred to former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, and Favre sent a follow-up text saying “Also if legal I’ll give some of my shares to the Governor.”
Bryant has denied accepting a quid pro quo in the matter.
“As I have said before, I would never accept money for no-show appearances, as the state of Mississippi auditor, @ShadWhite, claims,” Favre tweeted in 2021. “I am doing all that I can to support this investigation to make things right for the people of Mississippi and I have shared all that I know, which is that I was paid for three years of commercials that I did, and I paid taxes on the money, as I should.
“Of course the money was returned because I would never knowingly take funds meant to help our neighbors in need, but for Shad White to continue to push out this lie that the money was for no-show events is something I cannot stay silent about. Despite all efforts to seek clarification with the auditor, he has never granted a call back or a meeting with me, but has instead only repeatedly run to the media. Prioritizing sensational headlines over seeking truth is doing a disservice to the people of our great state who deserve answers and a resolution.”
Overall, as much as $70 million in federal welfare funds were misappropriated by the state.
John Davis, the former head of the state welfare agency, has pled not guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges. Davis was accused by the state auditor of giving “no show” deals to a number of family members, associates and celebrities.
A nephew was paid $400,000 for coding classes. The auditor said the nephew can’t code. A connected trainer got $300,000 to run a fitness bootcamp for elected politicians, according to NBC.
Former pro wrestler Ted DiBiase was paid $3 million from the welfare funds. Marcus Dupree, a Mississippi native who starred at running back for Oklahoma in the 1980’s, was also paid $370,000.
Compounding the matter, Mississippi is the state with the highest poverty rate in the nation and has been notorious for rejecting welfare applications from needy families. Citing state figures, NBC said that 90 percent of the applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds were denied.