State auditor counter-sues Favre for TANF funds

Published 11:33 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

State Auditor Shad White’s office has counter-sued Brett Favre for hundreds of thousands of welfare dollars.

Last February, Favre sued White for defamation for statements White made describing Mississippi’s large welfare fraud scandal. White’s attorneys have filed a counter-claim this week in the same defamation suit, demanding Favre pay back Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds with interest.

“Mississippi’s Constitution and laws require that the state auditor act to protect the taxpayers and fully collect all public funds [that] Mr. Favre received from Nancy New and John Davis,” White said. “Mr. Favre’s meritless defamation suit provides the opportunity for the recovery of the principal and interest [that] Mr. Favre failed to repay,” said Auditor White.

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Originally Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office represented White in the case between Favre and White. On Jan. 5, though, the Attorney General’s Office announced they would no longer represent White in the case because White “call[ed] into question the integrity of the Attorney General” in White’s upcoming book. Since then, attorneys at the Office of the State Auditor have been handling the case.

The counter-claim asks the court to require Favre to repay the principal and interest he owes on $1.1 million in welfare funds. The auditor’s office discovered these “illegal” transfers to Favre during its initial investigation and demanded Favre repay the amount, plus interest, in 2021. Favre admitted his fault, but failed to pay the entire amount due.

“It boggles the mind that Mr. Favre could imagine he is entitled to the equivalent of an interest-free loan of $1.1 million in taxpayer money, especially money intended for the benefit of the poor,” White said. “Now that lawyers from the Office of the State Auditor are trying this case, we are going to ensure Mr. Favre is held accountable for his acts and omissions.”

In 2022, the Mississippi Department of Human Services sued Favre in an attempt to recover welfare money paid for a volleyball court at the University of Southern Mississippi and to an experimental concussion treatment company Favre had invested in, but the agency did not sue to recover for the amounts due in relation to the $1.1 million transfer. The counter-claim seeks to recover $437,000 in unpaid principal and $292,790 in unpaid interest.