Mississippi State is suing former NFL and Hall of Famer quarterback Brett Favre and others, alleging that they erred in spending millions of dollars that were earmarked for welfare.
Newly disclosed text messages from 2017 indicate that former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who left office in 2020, knew of the arrangement, and that the money was intended to help low-income families. The lawsuit alleges that, having been directed through a nonprofit organization, it eventually went to Favre to help build a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre, who had a 20-year career in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and others, repeatedly denied Any violation of the subject.
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Here’s everything we know about the case:
What allegations does Brett Favre face in the lawsuit?
The lawsuit, filed in May on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, alleges that the defendants “squandered” more than $20 million from a temporary assistance program for families in need to fight poverty.
Newly entered text messages Monday in the lawsuit show that then-Governor Phil Bryant was involved in the scheme and even instructed Favre on how to write a funding proposal so it could be accepted by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Instead of the money going to the program, the lawsuit alleges, it was transferred through a nonprofit group, the Mississippi Community Education Center, to Favre and ultimately spent on a new volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi. Both Favre and former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant attended the school. Favre’s daughter started playing on the volleyball team there in 2017.
What do text messages say?
Text messages filed in court documents Monday by an attorney for the Mississippi Community Education Center show messages between Favre and the center’s executive director, Nancy New. Dated August 3, 2017, the text messages include references to former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and it appears Favre is admitting to some wrongdoing.
Favre: If you’re going to pay me, is there anyway the media can know where it came from and how much?
the new: No, this information was never published. I understand you’re uncomfortable about that though. Let’s see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks at Southern. Maybe he will click with them. or not.
In a message the next day, New confirmed to Favre that she had just ended a phone call with Bryant, who was “on board” with the arrangement.
Were any charges brought in this regard?
Nancy New and her son, Zachary New, who helped run the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center, pleaded guilty in April accused of improper spending of social welfare funds. They are waiting for the verdict and have agreed to testify against others.
Favre has not been charged with any criminal offenses.
Did Brett Favre say anything about this?
In October 2021, having paid part of the money owed, Favre said in a Facebook post That he would “never intentionally take money intended to help our neighbors in need.”
Favre added that he would “never accept money for a no-show” and that he “was doing everything in my power to support this investigation to make things right for the people of Mississippi.”
What have others said about Brett Favre since the allegations surfaced?
Jeff Perlman wrote a 2016 autobiography on Favre called Gunslinger: The Brilliant, Improbable, and Creative Life of Brett Favre and He urged his Twitter followers not to buy or read the book.
“Looking at it now, if I’m brutally honest–I’d advise people not to read it,” Perelman wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “He’s a bad guy. Not worthy of icon therapy. Not worthy of commendation. Image rehabilitation. Warm stories about the network’s glory. His treatment of @jennifersterger was…unforgivable.”
“And now – taking the money that was set aside to help the poor in his state, and diverting it to build (check notes) A (expletive) VOLLEYBALL ARENA (!?!?!?) is grotesque, so brutal. I don’t know what someone like that looks like in the mirror. I I just don’t know. So, honestly, don’t buy the book, and don’t take it out of the library. Leave it. There are so many better people who deserve hours of reading. Than your time. I’d rather a crumb like Brett Favre be turned into a cliff, shamed by greed and selfishness.”
What was Brett Favre accused of?
In May 2020, the Mississippi State Auditor said the Mississippi Community Education Center paid Favre Enterprises $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018 for multiple speaking engagements. The auditor’s report stated that “Based on a quick review of those dates, the auditors were able to determine that the individual contracted with did not speak and was not present for these events.”
Favre initially denied the claim in the days following the audit, but repaid the $600,000 in October 2021. At the time, the state auditor said the state attorney general could sue Favre if he did not pay the interest owed on the amount.
Then, in November 2021, Favre missed a deadline to pay $228,000 in interest, prompting the state auditor to hand the matter over to the state attorney general’s office.
Who is Brett Favre?
Favre, 52, played in 20 NFL seasons from 1991-2010, with the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. Favre, a three-time MVP, three-time Pro and 11-time Pro Bowler, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
He threw 71,838 yards and 508 touchdowns, both of which briefly stood as the all-time NFL numbers, though now placing him fourth on the current all-time list.
Contributing: Associated Press