It’s turning into a costly penalty.
Officials investigating a welfare spending scandal in Mississippi have demanded that NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre pay back $828,000 in speaking fees that he had vowed to return but has yet to pony up, or else face legal action.
Favre has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but had been swept up in an embezzlement scandal involving $94 million in federal welfare funds through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Program, after auditors determined he was paid for speeches with some of that cash.
“‘It’s time for the taxpayers to attempt to recover what we lost.‘”
— Mississippi state Auditor Shad White
An audit showed that Favre’s company, Favre Enterprises, was paid $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 to promote an anti-poverty initiative. As part of that, Favre was supposed to have made three speeches, but the audit determined that he never gave them.
Favre, who hails from Mississippi, said in 2020 that he didn’t know the money he received had been drawn from the welfare funds, and that he “would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most.”
After Favre’s involvement surfaced in 2020, he paid back $500,000, but officials say he has yet to give back the rest. Favre was under no legal obligation to do so, but had promised to give the money back. Including interest on the other $600,000, Favre now owes the state $828,000, according to the auditor’s office.
Favre played 20 seasons in the NFL, mostly for the Green Bay Packers, earning over $140 million over the course of his career. He retired after the 2010 season and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016.
Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Mississippi state auditor Shad White said that he has sent demand letters to numerous people who appear to have been inappropriately paid as part of the welfare scandal, in an effort to recoup $77 million of the misspent money.
“It’s time for the taxpayers to attempt to recover what we lost,” he said.
If the money is not paid back within 30 days, White said the state attorney general could pursue civil charges against Favre and the others. Among those White said owe money include a ministry run by former professional wrestler Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase, Sr. and his sons Ted DiBiase Jr. and Brett Debiase, as well as college football great Marcus Dupree.
Several people, including the former head of Mississippi’s welfare agency and Brett DiBiase, were indicted in state court last year on fraud and embezzlement charges. Dibiase later pleaded guilty. Two of the people indicted on state charges have also been indicted on federal charges.