Anna Wolfe

Anna Wolfe is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who covers inequity and corruption in government safety net programs, nonprofit service providers and institutions affecting the marginalized. She began reporting for Mississippi Today in 2018, after she approached the editor with the idea of starting a poverty beat, the first of its kind in the state. Wolfe has received national recognition for her years-long coverage of Mississippi’s welfare program, in which she exposed new details about how officials funneled tens of millions of federal public assistance funds away from needy families and instead to their friends, families and the pet projects of famous athletes. Since joining Mississippi Today, she has received several national honors including the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, the Livingston Award, two Goldsmith Prizes for Investigative Reporting, the Collier Prize for State Government Accountability, the Sacred Cat Award, the Nellie Bly Award, the John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award, the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, the Sidney Award, the National Press Foundation’s Poverty and Inequality Award and others. Previously, Wolfe worked for three years at Clarion Ledger, Mississippi’s statewide newspaper, where she covered city hall, health care, and wrote stories about hunger and medical billing, earning the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism two years in a row. Born and raised on the Puget Sound in Washington State, Wolfe moved to Mississippi in 2012 to attend Mississippi State University, where she currently serves on the Digital Journalism Advisory Board. She has lived in Jackson, Mississippi since graduating in 2014. More by Anna Wolfe


Before national news covered the welfare scandal, Mississippi Today exposed it first.

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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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