The Brett Favre-Mississippi welfare scandal reached new heights on Monday with released text messages once again linking Favre to the misuse of the state’s welfare funds for a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre is accused of attempting to funnel $5million into the new complex built at his alma mater of Southern Miss, where his daughter was playing volleyball in 2018 in collaboration with former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Nancy New.
Mississippi Today’s Anna Wolfe revealed alleged text messages shared by the attorney of New, a nonprofit founder who has pled guilty for federal wire fraud relating to a widespread $77million misuse of funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The texts reportedly show Bryant guiding Favre on how to write a funding proposal that would be accepted by the Mississippi Department of Human Service.
One of the text messages show former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, asking New, who has since pleaded guilty to a litany of state and federal charges over the scheme, for assistance as it pertained to Favre and his ‘project.’
‘Just left Brett Favre,’ Bryant texted New in July, 2019. ‘Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course.’
When Favre asked Bryant how the new agency director might affect their plans to fund the volleyball stadium, Bryant assured him: ‘I will handle that… long story but had to make a change. But I will call Nancy and see what it will take.’
According to the report, involved parties managed to find a loophole regarding the expenditure of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, in which the Mississippi Department of Human Services put forth $4m toward the facility upgrade.
Favre has reportedly been questioned by the FBI over a $1.1million payment made to him.
Brett Favre has been accused of getting welfare money to build a college volleyball facility
The text messages also show Favre asking New, in August 2017: ‘Is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?’
New rejected these claims in a follow-up text. She is said to be assisting prosecutors in the civil case as part of her plea deal, according to Mississippi Today.
Favre has reportedly been questioned by the FBI for his alleged involvement in the welfare fraud case.
He was paid $1.1million for promoting the volleyball initiative and in a text to New — according to Wolfe — said he ‘could record a few radio spots’ and ‘whatever compensation could go to USM.’
Favre is an NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl winner in 1998 (pictured) with the Packers
The Green Bay Packers legend, 52, who has not been accused of a crime, was said to have been paid the cash in 2017 and 2018, as part of the wider $70million scandal – along with a professional wrestler, a horse farm and the aforementioned volleyball complex.
NBC News reported that Favre, who has since given back the $1.1m but not the $228,000 in interest being demanded by a Mississippi state auditor, has indeed spoken to FBI regarding the case.
Favre has previously defended himself on social media, posting in October 2021 that he was unaware where the money had come from, and that he believed he was being paid for taking part in three years of commercials.
It is alleged that the money paid to Favre came from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare fund, and came at the direction of former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Bryant has also denied knowing the cash came from welfare money.
Favre has paid back the $1.1m and claims he believed the money was for commercials he was in
Speaking on Twitter, Favre said last year: ‘I am doing all that I can to support this investigation to make things right for the people of Mississippi and I have shared all that I know, which is that I was paid for three years of commercials that I did, and I paid taxes on the money, as I should.
‘Of course the money was returned because I would never knowingly take funds meant to help our neighbors in need, but for Shad White to continue to push out this lie that the money was for no-show events is something I cannot stay silent about.’
Shad White is the state auditor who first discovered the misspending and fraud, according to the report.
In late July, a Mississippi state lawyer was fired after issuing a subpoena to see whether ex-NFL star Brett Favre faked a $5million donation relating to the 2018 construction of USM’s volleyball arena.
Part of the subpoena Pigott filed looked into a $5million check that went toward the facility.
Pigott told the New York Times that Favre had agreed to donate $5million for the building’s construction.
But the investigator – a former federal prosecutor – claims Favre instead asked for the $5million to be paid from the Mississippi Community Education Center, which was caught for misusing welfare funds in April.
Favre is a Super Bowl champion and three-time NFL MVP who played for the Falcons, Packers, Jets and Vikings, but is most famous for his 15 years as quarterback in Green Bay.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.