On Monday, Mississippi’s state auditor took legal action once again, urging Brett Favre to reimburse the state for welfare funds allegedly misused on initiatives championed by the retired NFL star.
Auditor Shad White’s request for nearly $730,000 from Favre marks the latest development in an ongoing legal dispute concerning funds intended to aid some of the most economically disadvantaged individuals in one of the nation’s poorest states.
Favre, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame residing in Mississippi, filed lawsuits in February 2023, accusing White and two national sports commentators of tarnishing his reputation through public discussions on welfare fund mismanagement.
White asserted in 2020 that Favre had received $1.1 million in speaking fees improperly from a nonprofit organization, which utilized welfare funds with approval from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. These funds were earmarked for projects such as a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre had committed to spearheading fundraising efforts for the facility at his alma mater, where his daughter began playing on the volleyball team in 2017.
“Favre had no legal entitlement to this $1.1 million,” White’s attorneys emphasized in Monday’s court filing.
Although Favre repaid $500,000 to the state in May 2020 and an additional $600,000 in October 2021, the latest filing contends that he still owes $729,790 due to accrued interest on the initial amount owed.
“It’s astonishing that Mr. Favre believes he’s entitled to effectively an interest-free loan of $1.1 million in taxpayer funds, especially funds intended for the benefit of the impoverished,” White stated in a Monday release.
Last October, a federal judge dismissed Favre’s defamation lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe, a former NFL player turned broadcaster. In May, Favre dropped his lawsuit against sportscaster Pat McAfee, a former NFL punter, after McAfee issued an apology for on-air comments alleging Favre had been “stealing from poor people in Mississippi.”
Favre’s defamation lawsuit against White remains ongoing, and Monday’s filing by White serves as a counterclaim in that suit.
While no criminal charges have been leveled against Favre, Mississippi prosecutors have indicated that millions of federal welfare dollars for low-income residents were misused on projects backed by affluent or well-connected individuals between 2016 and 2019.
A lawsuit filed by the Department of Human Services in 2022 outlined instances of improper spending of TANF funds, including projects supported by Favre: $5 million for the volleyball arena and $1.7 million toward the development of a concussion treatment drug.
Though no charges have been brought against Favre, former department officials and others have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the misappropriation.