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Favre must finish repaying misspent welfare money, Mississippi auditor says

brett favre
Posted at 10:34 AM, Feb 06, 2024

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's state auditor filed court papers Monday renewing his call for Brett Favre to repay the state for welfare money that the auditor says was improperly spent on projects backed by the retired NFL quarterback.

Auditor Shad White's demand of nearly $730,000 from Favre is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle over money that was supposed to help some of the poorest people in one of the poorest states in the nation.

Favre, a Pro Football Hall of Fame member who lives in Mississippi, filed lawsuits in February 2023 accusing White and two national sportscasters of defaming him in public discussions about welfare misspending.

White said in 2020 that Favre had improperly received $1.1 million in speaking fees from a nonprofit organization that spent welfare with approval from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was to go toward a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre agreed to lead fundraising efforts for the facility at his alma mater, where his daughter started playing on the volleyball team in 2017.

"Favre had no legal right to the possession or control of this $1.1 Million," White's attorneys wrote in the court filing Monday.

Favre repaid $500,000 to the state in May 2020 and $600,000 in October 2021, but the new court filing said he still owes $729,790 because interest caused growth in the original amount he owed.

"It boggles the mind that Mr. Favre could imagine he is entitled to the equivalent of an interest-free loan of $1.1 million in taxpayer money, especially money intended for the benefit of the poor," White said in a statement Monday.

The Associated Press left voicemail messages for two of Favre's attorneys Monday, and they did not immediately respond.

In October, a federal judge dismissed Favre's defamation lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe, a former NFL player who's now a broadcaster. In May, Favre ended his lawsuit against sportscaster Pat McAfee, who is a former NFL punter, after McAfee apologized for on-air statements that Favre had been "stealing from poor people in Mississippi."

Favre's defamation lawsuit against White is still pending, and White's filing Monday was a counterclaim in that suit.

Mississippi prosecutors have said millions of federal welfare dollars for low-income residents were squandered on projects supported by wealthy or well-connected people from 2016 to 2019.

A lawsuit filed by the Department of Human Services in 2022 said TANF money was improperly spent, including on projects Favre supported: $5 million for the volleyball arena and $1.7 million toward development of a concussion treatment drug.

No criminal charges have been brought against Favre, although a former department director and other people have pleaded guilty to their part in the misspending.