The Mississippi welfare fraud case, in which Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre is believed to be involved, has taken another twist.
According to a Mississippi Today report, text messages entered into the state’s ongoing civil lawsuit over the welfare scandal reveal that former Gov. Phil Bryant pushed the idea for the new volleyball stadium- ball of Favre a reality.
The texts showed Bryant pushing for the complex to be built at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater, using money that was supposed to go to the state welfare agency . Favre’s daughter, Breleigh, was playing volleyball at Southern Miss at the time some of the texts were sent.
According to the texts, the former governor also guided Favre on how to write the funding proposal so that it would be accepted by the Mississippi Department of Social Services. One of the texts was sent shortly after Bryant fired John Davis, the former director of the welfare agency, for alleged fraud.
“I just left Brett Favre,” Bryant emailed nonprofit founder Nancy New in July 2019, weeks after Davis was fired. “Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your plans on track. »
The texts — filed Monday by a lawyer representing Nancy New’s nonprofit — also showed Favre asking Bryant how the agency’s new director might affect funding plans. He was assured by the ex-governor that the plan could still go through.
“I’ll handle this…long story but I had to make a change,” Bryant wrote, according to the filing and a text Favre passed on to New. “But I’ll call Nancy and see what it takes.”
The newly released texts also show that Bryant, Favre, New, Davis and others worked together to channel at least $5 million from state social funds to build the new stadium.
According to Mississippi Today, Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in running the stadium’s welfare funds. But a text showed plans for the project even included naming the building after Bryant.
New, a friend of Bryant’s wife, Deborah, ran a nonprofit charged with spending tens of millions of flexible federal dollars outside of public view. What followed was the largest case of public fraud in state history, according to the state auditor’s office. Forensic auditors found that nonprofit leaders spent at least $77 million on funds meant to help those in need.
New pleaded guilty to 13 counts related to the scheme. Davis is awaiting trial and is also assisting prosecutors with his plea deal, according to the report. Neither Bryant nor Favre have been charged with any crime.
In another part of the fraud case, Favre was also questioned by the FBI in early September regarding the misappropriated funds.
Mississippi State gave Favre $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 to give speeches, pulling the money from federal welfare funds. Favre did not give them.
Consequently, the Mississippi State Auditor forced Favre to return the money, with interest. Favre repaid the $1.1 million, but not the $228,000 in interest, according to multiple reports.
According to the texts, the $1.1 million welfare contract that Favre received and which made headlines in September was just a way to get more funding for the volleyball project- ball.
“I might record a few radio spots,” Favre sent New. “…and whatever compensation may go to USM.”
Although the state-of-the-art volleyball stadium represents the largest known fraudulent purchase in the welfare fraud case, according to one of the defendant’s plea agreements, the state is not pursuing the case in its pending civil suit, according to Mississippi Today. report. Tate Reeves, the current governor, abruptly fired the attorney handling the state case when he tried to subpoena documents related to the stadium.
New York Post