Yesterday, I wrote about Brett Favre’s weak attempt to explain away questions about his connection to Mississippi’s ongoing welfare funds scandal. Favre, who made more than $137 million in the NFL, said he didn’t do anything wrong by helping divert $5 million away from the poorest people in America’s poorest state to build an athletic facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter was a student-athlete, because he never knew that money was, in fact, welfare money.
It took Favre until yesterday to finally speak up, which was odd because despite the internet’s protestations to the contrary, his name has been the most prominent one featured in stories about the scandal on a daily basis. This morning we found out why Favre decided yesterday was the day to break his silence: he and his attorney were trying to get ahead of a story in which CBS News confirmed that advocating for the Southern Miss athletic facility may not have been the worst connection between Favre and the misspent public welfare funds.
Turns out, a pharmaceutical company he invested in also got a Mississippi welfare check, after Favre hosted officials directly responsible for disbursing welfare fund at his home.
NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre hosted Mississippi officials at his home in January 2019, where an executive for a pharmaceutical company Favre invested in solicited nearly $2 million in state welfare funds, according to pitch materials obtained by CBS News.
A document distributed at the January 2, 2019 meeting describes plans to secure money from the state’s Department of Human Services, which operates Mississippi’s welfare program. The pitch was led by Jacob VanLandingham, then the CEO of pharmaceutical company Prevacus, which was attempting to develop a concussion drug.
The effort to infuse a for-profit business venture with money intended for some of the neediest families in the nation is the latest development in a welfare fraud investigation that has been swirling around the famed quarterback, a Mississippi native, and former state officials.
Favre, again, hasn’t been charged with a crime, but he knows his reputation is taking a beating. The statement from he and his lawyer aimed at distancing himself from the stench of the welfare scandal, though, only serve to point out his privilege. Whether Favre is ever officially charged with wrongdoing or not, his status as a wealthy and famous football player gave him the kind of access to funds for the poor that poor people can only dream of.
Favre never stood in line outside of a welfare office hoping to see a caseworker about the monthly check keeping his family afloat. Unlike millions of actually needy people, he didn’t have to wait months for his benefits to be approved, or call an office hoping the disembodied voice on the other end treated him with empathy instead of disdain. And after having benefited from those funds improperly—whether he knew it or not—Favre hasn’t been lambasted as a “welfare king” like generations of poor, nonwhite women who have been used by politicians as avatars for immoral behavior.
To the contrary, it’s Favre who was treated more like royalty by Mississippi’s crooked welfare overseers. When he called, they answered. When he invited them over, they showed up. When he asked, they gave. Mississippi’s poor, the people who know exactly where the money is coming from, could only dream of that level of responsiveness to their need.
Maybe Favre, a king among quarterbacks during his playing days, has found a new crown he can wear in his retirement.