Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre is in the process of paying back the $1.1 million in misappropriated Mississippi welfare funds, and he continues to defend his innocence in the matter.
During an interview with ESPN Wisconsin Friday, Favre said he didn’t know the source of the funds, and thought he was being paid for commercials, a PSA he taped which ran in the state and one public appearance.
The payments were uncovered in an audit of the Mississippi welfare system, which showed funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program were funneled through the Mississippi Community Education Center. The audit said he was paid for two appearances, and there was no evidence he made either one.
“It’s just ridiculous,” Favre said. “I in no way did anything wrong and wouldn’t do anything wrong or would take any money (this way). I’ve never no-showed anyone as far as speaking engagements or commercials or anything of that nature. That’s ridiculous. And what I would have liked for the tax auditor to do — I don’t know him — would have been for him to contact us and talk about it and express what he had [in terms of] the documents from his investigation. ‘This is what we have.’ Rather than broadcast it everywhere.
“For him to say I took $1.1 million and didn’t show up for speaking engagements is absolutely, 100 percent not true. But yes, we are paying it back.”
He’s given back $500,000 already, and has made arrangements to pay back the remaining $600,000 in installments.
He made clear that he didn’t know the source of the funds.
“I don’t think the investigation is over. I — unknowingly — am caught, not so much in the middle, because there’s a lot more to this investigation that has nothing to do with me,” Favre said. “When you are paid by your employer, do you ask them where the money comes from? That’s the same thing for me. I don’t ask Copper Fit or Wrangler or Nike or any other product that I’ve endorsed, I don’t ask them where the money comes from. That’s ridiculous. And I’ve already paid a portion of it back.
“That’s not me. I mean, I would certainly never do anything like that. And I know the people who know me know that that’s the absolute truth. That being said, we’re going to pay it back.”
Favre’s objection seems to be a semantic one, taking primary offense at the notion that he’d fail to appear. And while he’s right that he’s a small component in this story, since there was massive fraud, there are still plenty of questions to be answered.