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Anna Wolfe

Anna Wolfe, a native of Tacoma, Wa., is an investigative reporter writing about poverty and economic justice. Before joining the staff at Mississippi Today in September of 2018, Anna worked for three years at Clarion Ledger, Mississippi’s statewide daily newspaper. She also worked as an investigative reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and Jackson Free Press, the capital city’s alternative newsweekly. Anna has received national recognition for her work, including the 2021 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the 2021 Collier Prize for State Government Accountability, the 2021 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award, the 2020 Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and the February 2020 Sidney Award for reporting on Mississippi’s debtors prisons. She received the National Press Foundation’s 2020 Poverty and Inequality Award. She also received first place in the regional Green Eyeshade Awards in 2021 for Public Service in Online Journalism and 2020 for Business Reporting, and the local Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2019 and 2018 for reporting on unfair medical billing practices and hunger in the Mississippi Delta. More by Anna Wolfe

HOW IT ALL STARTED


There are several different ways, some criminal and some just wrong, that the people in charge of the welfare program misspent the money, according to auditors.

1) Agency and nonprofit employees are accused of forging documents in order to issue or cover up illegal payments, sometimes to themselves – a clear crime.

2) Officials and contractors awarded TANF money for activities or programs that did not serve the poor or satisfy other goals of the welfare program, a possible violation of federal regulations.

3) Officials awarded money to specific vendors – at times on the suggestion of political figures – without an application or bid process, a possible violation of federal grant guidance.

A federal grant purchase might be wasteful, constitute a conflict of interest or violate federal grant rules, but not rise to the level of a crime. That’s why criminal charges in the state’s case so far cover only about $4 million, while the auditor’s office has recommended civil damages up to $96 million – $77 million the office says John Davis misspent plus interest.



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