Brett Favre is paying Mississippi back $1.1 million in welfare money he received for speaking engagements and other purposes, according to State Auditor Shad White.
White said the former star NFL quarterback paid his office $500,000 on Wednesday and he would "repay the remainder in installments over the next few months." The auditor said the money will eventually be sent to the Mississippi Department of Human Services for welfare-related expenditures.
Favre received funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, in 2017 and 2018, according to a report the auditor released Monday. The money came through the Department of Human Services and a nonprofit, the Mississippi Community Education Center, or MCEC. The audit said the nonprofit paid Favre's company, Favre Enterprises, $1.1 million for appearances, promotions, autographs and speaking engagements that he didn't attend.
Auditors wrote that Favre "did not speak nor was he present for those events." They added the amount he made in the deal was "unreasonable."
"I want to applaud Mr. Favre for his good faith effort to make this right and make the taxpayers and TANF families whole," White said in a statement. "To date, we have seen no records indicating Mr. Favre knew that TANF was the program that served as the source of the money he was paid."
In a four-part statement on Twitter, Favre wrote: "My agent is often approached by different products and brands for me to appear in one way or another. This request was no different, and I did numerous ads for Families First.
"I have never received monies for obligations I didn’t meet. To reiterate Auditor White’s statement, I was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that I am refunding the full amount back to Mississippi.
"I have spent my entire career helping children through Favre 4 Hope donating nearly $10 million to underserved and underprivileged children in Mississippi and Wisconsin. It has brought a ton of joy to my life, and I would certainly never do anything to take away from the children I have fought to help! I love Mississippi and I would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most."
Favre has also faced scrutiny in recent months for his other links to MCEC, including its funding of a Southern Miss volleyball facility and ties to a Florida concussion drug company, Prevacus. He has not responded to the Clarion Ledger's requests for comment.
Follow Luke Ramseth on Twitter @lramseth.