A Mississippi Today research report revealed on Tuesday that former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant helped former NFL quarterback Brett Favre raise welfare funds to help build a new volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The news organization reviewed 2017 and 2019 text messages filed Monday in the Mississippi state civil lawsuit over misappropriated welfare funds. The lyrics were submitted by a lawyer representing Nancy New, who has already pleaded guilty to 13 offenses of bribery, fraud and extortion for her role in Social Security. New was the founder of the Mississippi Community Education Center, whose job it was 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 welfare funds in the largest public fraud case in Mississippi’s history.
The lyrics show Favre, New and Bryant discussing how to divert at least $5 million in welfare funds to build a volleyball stadium in Southern Miss. Favre played soccer at Southern Miss, and his daughter was there when a volleyball player, some of the lyrics were sent.
“If you paid me, would the media know where it came from and how much?” Favre asked New in 2017.
After telling Favre that “that information will never be made public,” she returned to him the next day.
“Wow, just called Phil Bryant! He’s on board with us! We’ll get this done!” New told Favre.
In another text sent in July 2019, Bryant told New that he had just finished meeting Favre and asked her if they could help him with his project.
Favre’s attorney, Bud Holmes, denied Mississippi Today that the former quarterback knew he was receiving benefits.
“Brett Favre has been honorable throughout this whole affair,” Holmes told the news organization.
Favre had told the outlet in 2020 that he had not discussed the volleyball stadium project with Bryant.
Bryant, who left office in January 2020, has long denied aiding social funds for the stadium project, and he did not address the lyrics in a statement to Mississippi Today accusing New’s defense team of “becoming more involved.” with publicity prior to the trial than they are”. with civil law.”
Mississippi Today reported that the volleyball stadium is not part of the state’s civil lawsuit. Favre and Bryant have not been criminally charged.
Last year, Favre paid back $600,000 to the state of Mississippi, an amount he had received for speeches he never gave. Favre was tasked with promoting a government poverty reduction initiative in 2017 and 2018, receiving $1.1 million. The state auditor reported that he initially refunded $500,000 of the amount, but earlier this month Favre was asked in a letter to repay the remainder plus interest.
Then, in May, the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed a civil lawsuit against Favre for failing to repay the interest on the $1.1 million that was $228,000.
According to the text messages on file 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.