Mississippi Swindle

Brett Favre and the Welfare Scandal that Shocked America

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Pub Date Aug 06 2024 | Archive Date Apr 16 2024

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How America’s youngest state auditor uncovered the largest public corruption scandal in the history of the nation’s poorest state

“A must read” with all the thrills of a John Grisham novel — for fans of shocking true crime exposés like Black Edge and Bad Blood (Peter Schweizer, author of Secret Empires)

This riveting exposé details how a small team of auditors and investigators, led by the youngest State Auditor in the country, uncovered a brazen scheme where the powerful stole millions in welfare funds from the poor in a sprawling conspiracy that stretched from Mississippi to Malibu.

Well-connected donors, highly placed officials, and popular public figures diverted tens of millions of dollars from the federal government's TANF — temporary assistance for needy families — program until a Republican auditor, his small team of dedicated investigators, and a Democratic prosecutor joined forces to hold them accountable in the face of intense obstruction and harassment.

Peopled with unforgettable characters — from the perpetrators; to the impoverished citizens for whom the money was intended; to the investigators, prosecutors, and reporters who held them to account — Mississippi Swindle is a political and true crime drama that highlights larger crises while appealing to a broad nationwide audience.
How America’s youngest state auditor uncovered the largest public corruption scandal in the history of the nation’s poorest state

“A must read” with all the thrills of a John Grisham novel — for fans...

Advance Praise

"Mississippi’s state auditor Shad White names names in his fast-paced account of the plunder of $100 million in welfare funds by corrupt officials and their well-connected associates – including celebrity athletes. White also reveals a lack of cooperation and outright opposition to the investigation by prosecutors, legislators and other powerful figures that was almost as maddening as the theft itself.”
--Curtis Wilkie, author of The Fall of the House of Zeus

"A lot of people talk about corruption and fraud--but very few people do anything about it.  Shad White is one of those people who is taking action. And in this book he explains how he did it.  A must read."
--Peter Schweizer, author of the #1 New York Times best seller Secret Empires

“I first met Shad White when he was a Rhodes Scholar, and we sat in an ancient pub in Oxford, England and talked about our shared hopes for a better, more just Mississippi. I am not surprised he has dedicated himself to public service -- a chapter of which is contained between these covers."
--Wright Thompson, author of Pappyland

"Mississippi’s state auditor Shad White names names in his fast-paced account of the plunder of $100 million in welfare funds by corrupt officials and their well-connected associates – including...

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Featured Reviews

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White shares the details of his investigation into the largest public fraud scheme in Mississippi's history in his book, "Mississippi Swindle." He reveals how influential individuals stole millions from the TANF program intended for needy families. The scam came to light when a whistleblower alerted then-Governor Phil Bryant, who contacted White. Despite challenges, White and his team halted the scam and apprehended those involved.

The scheme involved notable figures, including the former head of the Department of Human Services, leaders of North Mississippi-based nonprofits, a scrutinized doctor, a former NFL star, and others. White recounts their investigation in the book, facing threats due to the popularity of the accused. Nonetheless, he pursued justice for Mississippi's needy.

Before this scandal, I knew Brett Favre, a renowned figure in South Mississippi where I grew up. Personally, I wasn't a fan. I’ve always found him to be a bit of a jerk. Like him, I attended the University of Southern Mississippi and earned two degrees there. Despite his wealth, Favre sought funds to build a volleyball facility at the university, displaying greed and entitlement. Favre had previously committed his own funds to pay for the volleyball court but to advantage of the opportunity to use public funds instead of his own funds.

I found the book fascinating. As a Mississippi native familiar with its politics, I wasn't surprised by many details. Some believe they're above the law. While recovering the stolen $100 million may be unlikely, White deserves recognition for his efforts.

I highly recommend this book. Kudos to NetGalley, Steerforth Press, and Shad White for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this - wow. Not only was the subject matter so interesting but White takes the time to introduce and describe all the relevant players in a way that makes this feel more like a fictional story than a memoir. It reads similarly to a novel and is hard to put down. As someone that has knowledge and experience as an auditor and is now in the nonprofit industry and familiar with how federal grants work, I was already interested in the scandal; but the interest continues to build for the reader as you move through the chapters as the scheme just pulls you in. White does a nice job of explaining the fraud in a way that any reader could understand. There were a handful of times it slowed down or pulled in information I’m not sure was needed but overall it was an informative and enjoyable read that I would recommend.

I received ARC from publisher.

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Anyone that has followed the work of Mississippi State Auditor Shad White knows that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’ve misspent money in this state, he’s coming for you. I’ve even joked that if his own beloved mama was involved in such nefarious activities, he’d charge her, too. So, who better should tell the story of the gross incompetence, greed, and corruption of the Mississippi Department of Human Resources in the misappropriation of millions of TANF Federal dollars that lined the pockets Of John Davis, The New family, and Brett Favre to name a few. Just as with his auditing investigations, Shad White holds no punches when revealing the shocking and in some cases, ridiculous acts of fraud that slipped by due to little oversight of TANF Grant spending. If all
politicians were made of the same material White is made of, fraudulent activity like what occurred in Mississippi would be much less frequent.

I followed the news story as it unfolded, but as I read unbelievable after unbelievable detail of this welfare debacle, I found my eyes wide and my mouth open in awe of the absolute lack of integrity from all involved. Everyone should read this book and it will definitely be in my school library when it’s published. I, for one, am appreciative for the detailed insight into this tale of governmental corruption.

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Mississippi Swindle
Shad White
5 stars

Wow, what a book! First-hand look from the man who with his team brought down the biggest welfare fraud in the state of Mississippi, and Brett Favre's part of the scam. A fascinating insight into what power and money do to those who believe they are immune to consequences.

Favre's part in this and his absolute lack of accountability is outrageous, as well as all of those high profile people who let this slide as long as they did. However, Mr. White has left us with hope that one person/team can make a difference even in the face of overwhelming odds.

This is a highly readable book that many many people will enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley.

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This is one of the best books I’ve ever read (and I read A LOT). It’s the ultimate insider’s account of a widespread government conspiracy and fraud that is still unfolding at present. This can be classified as true crime, with a touch of memoir, based in a love of its setting — Mississippi — and her separate and unequal society. What makes it great is the author’s recognizing that at its heart, he’s recounting a David vs. Goliath story where, for a change, the little guy wins (so far — the story’s not yet over.) White is the Mississippi state auditor under whose leadership an unprecentedly huge fraud was uncovered iinvolving misuse and outright theft by a few of $100 million+ TANF funds, federal funds to lift families out of poverty that are given in a block grant to states to use as they deem fit. Yes Mississippi has more poor people than almost any state in the Union. And yes, TANF funds are subject to voluminous regulations that govern how they can be spent. (I know - I work for an agency that spends them carefully and correctly in another state.) There are systems in place to ensure the regulations are enforced. Except — when the fraud is led by the head of the very state dept. charged with distributing the funds. And when that fraud is tacitly (or openly) sanctioned by officials, celebrities, nonprofits created to serve the poor, and in many cases, public opinion. The true drama at the heart of the story comes from the author’s detailed account of how the evidence was uncovered by his department’s able, honest auditors, state law enforcement and other officials. And how widespread the coverup truly went. White has that rare ability to tell a complex story of financial fraud within arcane government systems in a way that distills it down to the key points. He captures the inherent drama in dismantling the coverup and the attempts to stop the investigators with threats and intimidation, lawsuits, and ongoing danger to those seeking justice. He tells the story in order that that the fraud was uncovered, with backstory to reveal how it was done, and with outcomes (or at least those to date of publication) for many of those involved in the fraud and uncovering it. He provides lengthly, detailed endnotes citing where his information came from, which adds to the veracity of his account. As many writers in similar circumstances, White includes a bit of his personal background as a Mississippi native and Ivy league grad. Refreshingly, tho, he tells just enough for you to understand his skill set and persepective without any indulgence in self-mythologizing. In fact, I would have liked a bit more of his personal story, but I was happy with what was given. As a nonprofit executive and fellow resident of a Southern state, I was aware of the story as it began to get regional headlines. I realized the colorful personalilties involved when the story got national headlines revealing NFL legend Bret Favre’s involvement and lawsuits attacking sports commentators who criticized him. But I didn’t truly understand the depth of the fraud, shocking disclosures of expenditures on lavish personal vacations, favors for friends, houses, cars, money laundering, and attacks by the entrenched powers of White and his dept, for disclosing the thefts. Tho the fraud was financial, the impact was highly personal, as hundreds of thousands of poor Mississippi families with children were left to poverty, violence, and early death. I hope White seeks higher office in his home state — and later adds to this story after all the “other shoes” have fallen.

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“Americans know the car is broken. Their government is more powerful than ever, yet Americans have lost faith in government to mind taxpayer resources and make common sense decisions. Waste is rampant, even if the average taxpayer can’t see all the modalities of the waste.”

Mississippi Swindle was a searing look at the egregious corruptions in our poorest state, paid for by the most vulnerable citizens. White was incredibly thorough in laying out an extensive cast of characters and their level of involvement in morally defunct actions against the welfare fund. If this isn’t turned into a true crime podcast, I’d be surprised and a bit disappointed!

What I found most shocking about this tale was just how many people had to be complicit in order for the scam to work. It reinforces a common citizens belief that the government systems are broken.

I loved the attention to detail and thorough nature of this book. White made sure that information was accessible to those of us who do not have a background in finance.

I did find the repeated patterns of the offenders to be a bit redundant, but I understand for the sake of having the full picture it is necessary to include everything. I can also imagine White and his office saying “Again? Really?”

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC to read in exchange for my review.

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Of course, I had heard of the Brett Favre case and him receiving welfare funds for doing nothing, so I was intrigued enough to read about it.

WOW! I had no idea that the fraud/embezzlement was so large. I could not stand the New's after reading the book. I hope that they get sentenced to long prison terms (I don't know yet what they were sentenced to).

I could feel the passion coming from the author as he tried to make sense of what was happening with the TANF funds. His frustration over the state and federal investigators was palable.

if you want an insiders look into the mispent welfare funds from Mississippi, this is the book for you. This is about as inside as you can get it, being that the author is the State Auditor of Mississippi.

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Mississippi Swindle

Shad White can tell you about corruption in state government involving nonprofit organizations. He dedicated years of his life to uncovering a massive collection of incidents in which individuals were spending grant money on goods and services for themselves rather than the folks who were supposed to be helped. Money intended to help poverty-stricken people gain adequate housing by repairing dilapidated structures in the Delta was used for other purposes. Money intended to help children from low-income households gain a good education at a charter school was spent on a number of luxury items for a precious few. The list goes on and on.

Shad White and his team followed the money trail. The story makes for interesting reading. He is no John Grisham, but the writing is clear and concise, and does not bog down in unnecessary detail.

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