JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

(Cartoonist - Rob Rogers)

In other news, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is warning that parts of the state are running out of resources because of the coronavirus. Kemp reopened the state last week, of course.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund says world governments will need to invest $20 trillion in public infrastructure like hospitals and clean energy over the next twenty years to meet demand after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Finally, an audit of Mississippi's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, commonly referred to as "welfare," found that while the state rejected most claims from the general public, they doled out millions to rich people and their friends.

The state of Mississippi allowed tens of millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty funds to be used in ways that did little or nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers, according to a scathing audit released on Monday.

According to the report, released by the state auditor’s office, the money also enriched celebrities with Mississippi ties, among them Brett Favre, a former N.F.L. quarterback whose Favre Enterprises was paid $1.1 million by a nonprofit group that received the welfare funds. The payments were for speaking engagements that Mr. Favre did not attend, the auditors said.

Other large sums went to a family of pro wrestlers whose flamboyant patriarch, Ted DiBiase, earned national fame performing as the “Million Dollar Man.” In a news conference on Monday, Shad White, the state auditor, said it was possible that many recipients of the money did not know it had come from the federal welfare program.

Mr. White called the findings “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers.” The audit found that more than $98 million from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, was funneled to the two Mississippi-based nonprofit groups over three years. About $94 million of that was “questioned” by state auditors, meaning the money was in all likelihood misspent or the auditors could not verify that it had been spent legally, Mr. White said.

I am shocked -- shocked! -- that the most conservative state governments with the most restrictive limits on welfare would deny claims so they can use the money for themselves.

Okay, I'm not shocked, but this report did make me angry when I read it.

It's not a coincidence that Mississippi is nearly 40 percent black, the highest proportion of all states, and that so many of the population's claims are denied while the money is essentially embezzled by white people. But I guess that's the story of America as a whole, isn't it? It's literally our history.

  • Aynwrong

    “…nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers…”

    I’d have more respect for these criminals had they just blown it all on booze and hookers. Religious concerts? Ugh…

  • muselet

    Funny and infuriating in equal measure, from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

    Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s willingness to reopen barbershops, bowling alleys and spas amid a nationwide pandemic was at the center of ear-piercing protests outside his mansion over the weekend — a mansion that remains closed to the public due to concerns over the coronavirus.


    Kemp further addressed the issue at a Monday news conference, explaining that many of the volunteer docents who give the tours are elderly and thus, more vulnerable to falling ill from coronavirus.

    It’s touching, isn’t it, that Brian Kemp is so very concerned about the health of those elderly, frail docents? I’m sure it’s purest coincidence that Kemp lives in that closed-to-the-public mansion.

    • The IMF’s estimate is probably too low by a factor of two, and that’s before considering the costs of kickbacks, bribes and self-dealing.

    • And speaking of waste, fraud and abuse, I can’t say I’m surprised about Mississippi’s TANF program. Saddened, but not surprised.