A Mississippi state auditor confirmed on Tuesday that Brett Favre has not paid back $600,000 in welfare funds he promised after his company was accused of accepting $1.1 million for no-show speaking engagements.
A 2020 audit found that the state’s Department of Human Services oversaw more than $94 million in improperly spent federal funds that was intended for at-need Mississippi residents. According to the audit, $1.1 million of that money went to Favre Enterprises for 2017 and 2018 speaking engagements that Favre did not make.
The money was provided through the federal government’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. It's not clear why the $1.1 million was earmarked for appearances by the Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Southern Miss quarterback to begin with.
“If there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it,” State Auditor Shad White said in 2020.
Favre vowed last May to repay $1.1M
After the news went public, Favre denied that he failed to show up for appearances, but was properly paid for endorsements and public service announcements. Regardless, he vowed to pay the money back, citing the source of the funds.
2/4 I have never received monies for obligations I didn’t meet. 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.
— Brett Favre (@BrettFavre) May 7, 2020
White confirmed last May that Favre wrote the state a check for $500,000 on the same day he vowed to repay the funds. He committed to paying the remaining $600,000 in installments in the coming months, according to White.
"I want to applaud Mr. Favre for his good faith effort to make this right and make the taxpayers and TANF families whole," White wrote in 2020. "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."
Auditor: Favre still hasn't paid $600K
As of Tuesday, Favre has not repaid any of the remaining $600,000, more than a year after he promised to do so, according to Logan Reeves of the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor.
“After the initial media dustup, he stroked a check for $500 grand and gave a commitment, a voluntary commitment, to repay the rest in the coming months,” Reeves told The Associated Press. “And then, that didn’t happen.”
Reeves' statements on Tuesday arrived after a report from Mississippi Today last week that Favre had yet to pay back the $600,000. Favre has not been charged with a crime and has not been ordered by the state to return the money.
“He’s under no obligation to do so other than him giving his word,” Reeves continued.
Legal decisions around audit still pending
Six people including former officials from Mississippi's welfare office and ex-pro wrestler Brett DiBiase face welfare fraud charges over misspent funds related to the audit.
According to Reeves, the federal Office of the Inspector General has yet to make a decision on how to legally address the misspent funds. Officials could eventually ask Favre and others to repay funds based on that decision.
Favre has not publicly addressed the issue since the May 6 Mississippi Today report that he had yet to repay the outstanding $600,000. He's made no mention of it on Twitter, and his agent didn't respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press on Tuesday.
As of 2019, Mississippi had the highest poverty rate of any state in the country, according to U.S. Census data.
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