Sport

Brett Favre repays $600,000 in welfare money for speeches he did not make

Hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre has repaid $600,000 in state welfare money he accepted for speeches where he didn’t appear, but the state attorney general could sue Favre if he doesn’t pay interest owed on the amount, the Mississippi auditor said on Wednesday.

Auditor Shad White said Favre paid the $600,000 this week. White sent the former Green Bay Packers quarterback a letter on 12 October demanding $828,000, which was the $600,000 plus $228,000 in interest.

Of the $228,000, White said: “If he does not pay that within 30 days of our demand, the AG will be responsible for enforcing the payment of the interest in court.”

Favre is not facing criminal charges, but former Mississippi department of human services director John Davis and other people have been charged in one of the state’s largest embezzlement cases. Allegations of misspending came to light in early 2020 when Davis and five others were indicted.

White said in May 2020 that Favre, who lives in Mississippi, had repaid $500,000 of the $1.1m in welfare money he received for multiple no-show speeches. Favre was paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader is among those awaiting trial.

In a Facebook post when he repaid the first $500,000, Favre said he didn’t know the money he received came from welfare funds. He also said his charity had provided millions of dollars to poor children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.

“My agent is often approached by different products or brands for me to appear in one way or another. This request was no different, and I did numerous ads for Family First,” Favre wrote.

“I have never received moneys for obligations I didn’t meet. To reiterate Auditors White’s statement, I was unaware that the money being dispensed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that I am refunding the full amount back to the state of 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.

“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.”

White on 12 October demanded that several people and organizations repay $77m in misspent welfare money intended to help people in one of the poorest states in the US. With interest, the demand jumped to $96m. That included money sought from Favre.

White issued the demands about two weeks after the release of an independent report about how the Mississippi department of human services spent federal money from 2016 through 2019. The report found nearly $41m in “questioned costs” for items including travel and programs to support college athletes.

White demanded the whole $96m from Davis and most of it from Mississippi Community Education Center and another nonprofit organization, Family Resource Center. Davis left the Department of Human Services in July 2019.

Those indicted along with Davis were former professional wrestler Brett DiBiase. DiBiase pleaded guilty in December to one count of making a false statement. He said in court documents that he had submitted documents and received full payment for work he did not complete. He agreed to pay $48,000 in restitution, and his sentencing was deferred.