Brett Favre holds his share of dubious records, such as the most interceptions, most fumbles, and most times sacked in NFL history. Now he has another, although it’s not his alone.
In a review of spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, nearly $100 million of expenditures have come into question, with State Auditor Shad White calling what happened, “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers at the Office of the State Auditor. … If there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it.”
According to the audit, the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) received grant money from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, some of which then went to the legendary quarterback’s company.
“Favre Enterprises was contracted to appear at several events, record promotions, and provide autographs for marketing materials from July 1, 2017 through July 31, 2018,” the report reads. “Additional contract information provided that the contract fee would be paid in installments and would include three (3) speaking engagements, one (1) radio spot and one (1) keynote address. There was no mention of the contract price in the contract supplied to auditors. When auditors requested further details on the performance of the contract, specifically the dates of any speaking engagements, MCEC provided a list of dates and events that fulfilled the contract terms; however, upon a cursory review of those dates, auditors were able to determine that the individual contracted did not speak nor was he present for those events. Two payments were made to Favre Enterprises — one for $500,000 in December 2017 and one for $600,000 in June 2018.”
UPDATE: White issued a statement on Wednesday that Favre has given back $500,000, with a pledge to “repay the remainder in installments over the next few months” and put toward “TANF-appropriate expenditures.” The auditor said there were “no records indicating Mr. Favre knew that TANF was the program that served as the source of the money he was paid.”
Of course, that does not explain why Favre accepted more than a million dollars for work he never did. His assertion in a March text message to Anna Wolfe of Mississippi Today was that “this is about economic development plain and simple!!! My hope was/is to see the concussion drug manufactured in the state of Mississippi!!!”
Wolfe reported last month that Prevacus founder Dr. Jake Vanlandingham said he’d signed an agreement with the MCEC, but asserted he did not know how it was possible that TANF money could have wound up with his company. And while Favre may be in the clear here, Wolfe reported that he and former Gov. Phil Bryant requested a meeting at New’s office. So even though there may not be records that Favre knew about it being TANF money, there’s still an explanation needed as to what the quarterback did know.
The Clarion Ledger reported that Favre, 50, will not face charges in the scandal. Those who will “include former DHS Director John Davis as well as Nancy New” of the MCEC. That’s because in a boondoggle this large, Favre’s company taking payments for work never done is small potatoes. After all, he got $11 million from the Jets for what everyone only wishes had been a no-show job.
Favre’s own company isn’t his only tie to the damning report. Since retiring from football, Favre has made some money on the crackpot science circuit, and in 2018 he started endorsing a product called Prevacus meant to treat concussions.
“The Director and Assistant Executive Director (of MCEC) entered into a contract for $1,700,000 with the medical company, Prevacus, to purchase an investment in Prevacus and its affiliate PreSolMD,” the audit report reads. The company manufactures a brain concussion medicine. In exchange for the investment, Prevacus was to conduct clinical trials of the new medicine on children in Mississippi.”
Was this official state business? No.
“The agreement was entered into by the Director and Assistant Executive Director of MCEC in their personal capacity,” the report continues. “An initial wire transfer of $500,000 was made on April 8, 2019 and a subsequent wire transfer of $250,000 was made on May 10, 2019.”
So why is it part of the report?
“Original entries in the general ledger show that payments were made with TANF funds; however, after State Auditor Investigators questioned the use of TANF funds in July 2019, the funding source was changed to ‘Bingo’ in the accounting software. It should be noted that an additional $350,000 was paid in FY 2020.”
Why does a famous athlete who made more than $100 million in his playing career need to be involved in such shady business? Who knows, but Favre isn’t even alone as a Hall of Famer involved in these Mississippi shenanigans.
Joining Favre is WWE legend Ted DiBiase — better known as The Million Dollar Man — and his sons, former wrestlers Ted Jr. and Brett. Their company, Priceless Ventures, “was awarded a contract from May 22, 2018 through September 30, 2018 from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds for ‘emergency food assistance.’ According to inquiry with individuals at FRC (Family Resource Center), no work was performed on this contract, but payment of $497,987 (SNAP funds) was made to fulfill contract terms. FRC also reimbursed travel expenses related to these contracts. … Actual payments to Priceless Ventures for FRC totaled $1,643,820 in FY 2018 and $104,167 in FY 2019.”
“Everybody’s got a price, everybody’s gonna pay,” isn’t supposed to mean money meant to help feed the hungry in one of the poorest states in America.