Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and WWE legend Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase Sr. have been sued by the Mississippi Department of Human Services in an attempt to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help the poorest people in the country.
The lawsuit was filed Monday and states that the 38 defendants “squandered” more than $20 million in money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) anti-poverty program.
“Today, we are filing suit on behalf of the people of Mississippi to begin to recoup funds that were improperly used and diverted from their important purpose of helping families in need,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement on Monday. “Our purpose with this suit is to seek justice for the broken trust of the people of Mississippi and recover funds that were misspent.”
The lawsuit comes on the heels of Nancy New and Zachary New, a mother and son who ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi, pleading guilty to state criminal charges tied to the misspending. The News agreed to testify against others in this wide-reaching fraud scheme.
The TANF program assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family’s basic needs. The federal government provides grants to states to run the TANF program.
Here’s where it gets muddled.
The state then has discretion over how to distribute said funds. The Mississippi Community Education Center, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, whose mission is to train, support and review education, had contracts with the Department of Human Services to spend money through the TANF program.
What does a non-profit educational organization have to do with the basic needs of families with children?
In theory you can draw a connection between basic needs and the organization’s broad mission of improving community education. But that’s a stretch.
However it doesn’t matter.
The state has broad flexibility to carry out the program how it sees fit, with no interference from the federal government. In this case, Mississippi decides on the design of the program, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of other services to be provided, and the rules for determining who is eligible for benefits.
All you need are a few unscrupulous people to be in charge of these programs and they can rubber stamp anyone they want to receive funding.
“When we issued our civil demands related to the DHS scandal last fall and then turned those demands over to the attorney general’s office for enforcement, we knew this day would eventually come,” White said in a statement Monday.
“I applaud the team filing this suit and am grateful the state is taking another step toward justice for the taxpayers. We will continue to work alongside our federal partners—who have been given access to all our evidence for more than two years—to make sure the case is fully investigated.”
But in a nation whose religion is capitalism and where poor people are sinners. Helping poor people is blasphemy.