May 5 (UPI) -- State auditors say they have found nearly $100 million worth of "questionable" spending of funds that were intended for the poor in Mississippi.
The 424-page audit examined spending in the Department of Human Services for fiscal 2019 and followed six criminal indictments this year that targeted welfare spending.
In announcing the results later Monday, state auditor Shad White said he'd found numerous instances of the most blatant misspending he's seen in his career. The audit followed grant money sent to two non-profits and White's office accused them of misappropriating the money.
Some of the money went to paying former NFL star quarterback Brett Favre, who attended college at Southern Mississippi, for speeches he never made. Other funds went to sponsor a college baseball tournament and buy expensive vehicles.
"This completed audit ... shows the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers at the Office of the State Auditor," White said in a statement. "When you read this one-hundred-plus page audit, you will see that, if there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it."
The review showed the department funneled millions to the Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi, which spent the funds on lobbyists, expensive cars for some of its officers and advertising.
Favre's company, Favre Enterprises, was paid $1.1 million in two installments for appearances, promotions, autographs and speaking engagements White said the former Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings star never did. As of early Tuesday afternoon, Favre had not yet responded to the report.
Professional wrestlers Ted Dibiase, Ted Dibiase Jr. and Brett Dibiase were also paid for work that was not performed, it found, while also stating that the department failed to demonstrate how any of the expenditures helped Mississippi's impoverished.
"This audit should be a wake-up call to everyone in government," White added. "The old way of doing things, where you do whatever your boss or a person who controls a lot of money tells you to do, or you ignore the law around how to spend money because you think no one is looking -- those days are over."
White said there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the misuse of funds, which includes federal authorities.