Ignoring the poor is a great American pastime for the 1%. According to recent reports, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre may have found a way, via his alleged involvement in a huge corruption scandal in Mississippi, to stand out in this game as well.
The Hall of Fame has been embroiled in a complex web of allegations involving welfare funds for families in poverty diverted to fund, among other questionable projects, volleyball and football facilities at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater, where his daughter also played volleyball at the time.
Investigations alleging Favre’s entanglement in the misuse of the Mississippi welfare fund date back several years, with ESPN reporting in 2020 that a “nonprofit group caught in a Mississippi embezzlement scheme used federal welfare money to pay former NFL quarterback Brett Favre $1.1 million for several speaking engagements, but Favre did not show up at the events.” The nonprofit had contracts through the state Department of Social Services funded by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and allegations of misuse led to criminal charges against nonprofit leaders and state officials in 2020.
Favre has denied these allegations, saying in 2021 on Twitter that he “would never accept money for absences”, that he was paid for advertisements, but “[o]Of course, the money was returned to me because I would never knowingly take funds meant to help our neighbors in need.”
In May of this year, Mississippi’s DHS sued Favre and several others in an attempt to recover some of the lost funds, which the Associated Press says totals “millions of misdirected welfare dollars intended for help some of the poorest people in the United States.”
And now, text messages have surfaced in court filings that appear to show former Gov. Phil Bryant helping Favre secure funding for a new volleyball stadium using welfare funds, Mississippi Today reported in an explosive five-month investigation that brought the state scandal to the national level. securities. “Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in the management of the volleyball stadium’s social funds, although plans for the project even included naming the building after him.”
In July 2019, ESPN reported, “Bryant texted Favre that the founder of a nonprofit who paid him ‘has limited control over federal funds in the form of grants for children and adults in the low-income community”.
“The use of these funds [is] tightly controlled,” Bryant wrote, according to the filing. “Any misuse could result in a violation of federal law. Auditors are currently reviewing the use of these funds.”
The following month, the documents show that Favre texted the leader of the association: “If you were to pay me, is there a way for the media to find out where it came from and how much?”
None of this looks good for Favre’s reputation.
Favre texted Bryant again in September 2019, according to the filing: “Obviously we need your help big time and time is working against us,” Favre wrote. “And we think your name is the perfect choice for this installation, and we’re not taking no for an answer! You’re a former Miss of the South, and people need to know that you’re also a supporter of the University.”
Bryant replied, “We’re going to make it. It was a great meeting. But we have to obey the law. I have to[o] old for federal prison.”
None of this looks good for Favre’s reputation. He returned the $1.1 million, but the state is still asking for $228,000 in interest. He has not been charged with any crime. But Sirius XM has suspended its talk show and NBC Sports reports that its weekly appearances on ESPN Milwaukee have been suspended until further notice. Is it sufficient? So far, one wealthy man has shelled out a relatively small slice of unearned dough from his otherwise sport-built empire.
Perhaps Favre, who ranks among the highest-paid NFL players of all time and was lucky enough to grow up in a two-parent family led by college-educated parents who both worked as teachers, is hurting now. crowded. Maybe he can’t fully comprehend that there are poor people in Mississippi who need help with more pressing and important matters than new athletic facilities for his daughter’s volleyball team. .
We fought with public housing and government-issued blocks of cheese and peanut butter until semi-paying employment was available.
If I had Brett’s ear, I’d tell him about Coach Kevin in northeast Baltimore whose football team – kids ages 9 to 11, who love the game like him – is leads in the dark, meeting often, as the district lacks lights. This is what poverty looks like. Or I was telling Brett my own story, about the times we had to use the oven to heat our house in the winter and eat cereal with a fork to keep the milk because we were broke and having a way through difficult times. We weren’t lazy and we weren’t lacking in ambition, we just didn’t get called back for jobs because companies weren’t hiring guys with names like Dante or Keon. We fought with public housing and government-issued blocks of cheese and peanut butter until semi-paying employment was available. And even when we beat public assistance, poverty blanketed our experience. Public funds are only a small part of it. The biggest battle is securing stable housing, navigating adequate food while living in food deserts, studying in underfunded schools, and dealing with how the police have treated us. We all needed more than one system that repeatedly failed us.
A system that has let people down for generations is not Brett Favre’s fault. I don’t think people should call for his arrest. However, it would be a great opportunity for the quarterback to listen to people who may not have been so lucky. He should spend time around Mississippians who have been hurt by a lack of funds available for public relief. He could use his platform to amplify these ongoing issues. Maybe some of those poor kids would get a boost and end up going to school like Southern Miss themselves. Perhaps as alumni they would have been successful enough to help build new college facilities themselves – honestly.
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