Thursday, October 20, 2022

TANF Scandal Keeps Growing in Mississippi

From Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Former NFL quarterback and Mississippi native Brett Favre has been in the headlines in recent months, but not for anything related to his football career. He’s one of three dozen people or companies being sued by the Mississippi Department of Human Services in Mississippi’s largest-ever public corruption case, involving the misspending of tens of millions of dollars in TANF money that was intended to help low-income residents in one of the nation’s poorest states. Favre, who faces no criminal charges, said recently he has been treated unfairly in coverage of the scandal, which has ties to former governor Phil Bryant and revolves around a volleyball arena Favre hoped to build at the University of Southern Mississippi—his alma mater and the college where his daughter was playing the sport. Mississippi nonprofit newsrooms—Mississippi Today and the Mississippi Free Press among them—have led that coverage, and Mississippi Today’s Anna Wolfe has led the pack. Wolfe spoke to Spotlight about the scandal recently; the transcript here has been lightly edited for length and clarity.