The Mississippi state auditor released a searing report Monday that said the state misspent at least $94 million in federal welfare funds in ways that did virtually nothing to aid its poorest citizens over the course of three years.
The money from the program, known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), flowed into the state. The 104-page report said it was later directed to two nonprofit groups that spent the funds on lobbyists, pro wrestlers, and speeches that were never given by Brett Favre, a famed NFL quarterback who lives in Mississippi.
Shad White, the auditor, called it “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers” in a press release.
NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre will return $1.1 million given to his Favre Enterprises for three events he never attended.
Favre, 50, told auditors he had no knowledge that the payments he received in December 2017 and June 2018 from the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center had been funded with federal welfare grants.
The nonprofit has been implicated in an extensive fraud scheme involving welfare aid that Mr. White’s office uncovered in a year-end audit. The scheme resulted in criminal charges against six people, including the former director of Mississippi’s welfare agency and three officials from the center. Favre is not facing charges.
In February, the auditor’s office announced criminal charges against the former director of Mississippi’s welfare agency, saying that he took part in a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars for personal use and to pay for a former professional wrestler to go to a luxury drug rehabilitation center.
The director, John Davis, who retired in 2019 from the state’s Department of Human Services, was one of six people charged in what Mr. White said was the largest embezzlement scheme that the office had seen in at least 20 years.
The professional wrestler who went to the drug rehab center, Brett DiBiase, was also charged in the embezzlement scheme. State auditors said that Mr. DiBiase, 31, was paid with welfare funds for teaching classes about drug use, but he never taught those classes because he was being treated for an opioid addiction at the Rise in Malibu rehab center in California.