In Mississippi, Welfare for the Well-Connected as a Scandal Spreads

by 24USATVSept. 22, 2022, 5 p.m. 18
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​As he became further enmeshed in a scheme that diverted federal welfare money to build a volleyball stadium that cost more than $5 million at the University of Southern Mississippi, the former football star Brett Favre texted a question to the ​head of a nonprofit doling out funds meant to go to welfare recipients in the nation’s poorest state.

“If you were to pay me,” he wrote in 2017 of a $1.1 million proposal for promotional efforts that would actually be funneled toward building the stadium, “is there any way the media could find out where it came from and how much?” Several years of text messages about the project came to light when they were filed in court last week and were first published by Mississippi Today, the small nonprofit news site that has consistently led reporting on the story.

Far more than that payment has been exposed in a billowing scandal that has stretched considerably beyond Mr. Favre. A motley assortment of political appointees, former football stars, onetime professional wrestlers, business figures and various friends of the state’s former Republican governor all stand accused of pocketing or misusing money earmarked for needy families.

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