The ex-governor of Mississippi knew about Favre .’s welfare money

JACKSON, Miss. Text messages recently revealed show how closely a Mississippi governor was involved in transferring more than $1 million in welfare money to Brett Favre to help pay for one of the retired NFL quarterback’s pet projects.

Instead of the money intended to help low-income families in one of the poorest states in the country, as intended, it was funneled through a nonprofit and spent on a new $5 million volleyball facility at a university. which the football star and the governor both attended.

One of the 2017 texts showed that Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who left office in 2020, was “on board” with the scheme. The state is suing Favre and others, claiming they have misspent millions of dollars in welfare money. The nonprofit’s director pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Mississippi’s largest public corruption case in decades.

The lyrics were in court documents filed in state court Monday by an attorney for the nonprofit known as the Mississippi Community Education Center. Messages between Favre and the center’s executive director, Nancy New, contain references to Bryant. The documents also contain messages between Bryant and Favre and Bryant and New.

“Just left Brett Farve,” Bryant texted New on July 16, 2019, misspelling the athlete’s last name. ‘Can we help him with his project? We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on track.”

New replied, “I’d be happy to continue with all the good stuff we’re working on, especially projects like Brett’s.”

Later that day, New Favre texted to let him know she had a meeting with the governor.

“I love John so much. And so do you,” Favre replied to New, referring to then-director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, John Davis.

The lyrics also showed a discussion between Favre and New about arranging payment from the Human Services Department through the nonprofit to Favre for speaking engagements, with Favre then saying he would send the money to the University of Southern Mississippi volleyball facility.

Favre played football in college in Hattiesburg before joining the NFL in 1991, and his daughter started playing on the volleyball team there in 2017.

According to court documents, Favre sent a text message to New on August 3, 2017: “If you paid me, would the media still be able to find out where it came from and how much?”

New replied, “No, we never got that information public. However, I understand you’re uncomfortable with that. Let’s see what happens Monday with the conversation with some of Southern’s people. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully. .”

Favre replied, “Okay, thanks.”

The next day, New Favre texted, “Wow, I just called Phil Bryant! He’s on board with us! We’ll get this done!”

Favre replied, “Great, I definitely needed to hear that.”

According to a previous court filing, New’s nonprofit made two distributions to Favre Enterprises, the athlete’s company: $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018.

On December 27, 2017, Favre texted New: “Nancy Santa came today and dropped off some money (two smiling emojis) thank you, my god, thank you.”

“Yes, he did,” New replied. “He thought you’d been pretty good this year!”

Lawyers for Favre did not immediately respond to a telephone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

In a July 11 lawsuit, New’s attorney wrote that Bryant directed her to pay $1.1 million in welfare money to Favre through the training center for “speaking at events, keynote speakers, radio and promotional events, and developing business partners.”

In July, a Bryant spokesperson said allegations that the governor misappropriated the money are false and that Bryant had asked the state auditor to investigate possible social fraud.

Bryant served two terms as governor and was unable to run in 2019 due to term limits. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.

New and her son, Zachary New, who helped run the nonprofit, pleaded guilty in April to misusing benefits. They are awaiting sentencing and have agreed to testify against others.

Favre has not been charged with any criminal misconduct.

In May, the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed a civil lawsuit against Favre, three former professional wrestlers and several other people and companies to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars. The lawsuit said the defendants “wasted” more than $20 million from the anti-poverty program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

According to the Department of Human Services, approximately 1,800 Mississippi households received payments from the program in 2021. A family of three must have a monthly income of less than $680 to qualify, and the current monthly benefit for that family is $260. Payments are allowed for up to five years.

By pleading guilty, Nancy and Zachary New admitted that they had collaborated in spending $4 million in welfare money for the volleyball facility.

The mother and son also acknowledged giving benefits to Prevacus Inc., a Florida-based company that was trying to develop a concussion drug. Favre has said in interviews that he supported Prevacus.

Mississippi auditor Shad White said Favre was paid for speeches but failed to show. Favre repaid the money, but White said in October he still owed $228,000 in interest.

In a Facebook post when he paid back the first $500,000, Favre said he didn’t know the money came from social funds. He also said his charity had provided millions of dollars to poor children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.

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