An Mississippi Today investigative report It was reported Tuesday that former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant helped former NFL quarterback Brett Favre secure charitable funds to help build a new volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The news organization analyzed text messages from 2017 and 2019 that were filed Monday as part of a Mississippi civil lawsuit over the misappropriation of social security funds. The texts were filed by a lawyer representing Nancy New, who has already pleaded guilty to 13 counts of bribery, fraud and racketeering for her role in the welfare scheme. New was the founder of the Mississippi Community Education Center, which was commissioned to spend tens of millions in federal welfare funds to help the state.
State auditors determined that nonprofit leaders misappropriated at least $77 million in Social Security funds in the largest public fraud case in Mississippi history.
The texts show Favre, New, and Bryant debating how to funnel at least $5 million in Social Security funds towards the construction of a volleyball stadium in South Miss. Favre was playing football at Southern Miss and his daughter was a volleyball player there at the time, some of the texts were sent.
“If you paid me, the media could find out where it came from and how much?” Favre asked New in 2017.
After telling Favre that “we never made this information public”, she returned to him the next day.
“Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is with us! We will do it!” New told Favre.
In another message sent in July 2019, Bryant told New that he had just finished a meeting with Favre and asked her if they could help him with his project.
Favre’s attorney, Bud Holmes, denied Mississippi Today’s report that the former quarterback knew he was on welfare.
“Brett Favre has been honest throughout this,” Holmes told the news organization.
In 2020, Favre told the publication that he had not discussed the volleyball stadium project with Bryant.
Bryant, who left office in January 2020, has long denied helping funnel charitable funds to the stadium project, and he didn’t address the lyrics in a statement to Mississippi Today accusing the New York defense team of being “more more concerned about pre-trial publicity than they are about themselves.” with civil justice.”
Mississippi Today reported that the volleyball stadium is not part of the state’s civil lawsuit. Favre and Bryant were not prosecuted.
Last year, Favre returned $600,000 to the state of Mississippi, the amount he was paid for speeches he never gave. In 2017 and 2018, Favre was tasked with promoting the government’s anti-poverty initiative, receiving $1.1 million. The State Audit Office said he initially returned $500,000 of that amount, but earlier this month Favre was asked in a letter to pay the balance plus interest.
Then, in May, the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed a civil lawsuit against Favre because he failed to pay interest on $1.1 million, which totaled $228,000.
According to text messages in documentation obtained by Mississippi Today, the $1.1 million deal with the state was another means of funding the volleyball stadium project.
Reuters contributed to this report.