Brett Favre allegedly pressed Mississippi state officials for welfare money even after being warned misspending state funds was illegal, according to ESPN.
Favre is caught in the middle of Mississippi’s largest welfare scandal involving $77 million in misspent welfare funds.
The retired NFL quarterback allegedly pressed former Gov. Phil Bryant and other state officials for $5 million in welfare money to build a volleyball stadium for his daughter at University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre and Bryant are alumni of the university.
Favre’s daughter, Breleigh, pictured left with her parents in 2015, began playing volleyball at the university in 2017.
RELATED: Text Messages Reveal Brett Favre’s Involvement in Massive Welfare Fraud
According to a court filing, Favre was warned by then-Gov. Phil Bryant that the misuse of state welfare funds was illegal.
Favre’s attorneys claim he did not know the original source of the funds. However, text messages included in a court filing show he was told the funds were earmarked for welfare recipients.
On July 28, 2019, Bryant texted Favre that the founder of a nonprofit “has some limited control over Federal Funds in the form of Grants for Children and adults in the Low Income Community.”
“Use of these funds [is] tightly controlled,” Bryant texted Favre, according to the filing. “Any improper use could result in violation of Federal Law. Auditors are currently reviewing the use of these funds.”
In another text message to Nancy New, who ran the Mississippi Community Education Center, Bryant wrote, “Just left Brett Favre. Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course.”
A text message from Favre to Nancy New shows he was concerned that the local media might find out about the welfare payment.
“No, we never have had that information publicized,” Nancy New texted him back. “I understand you being uneasy about that though…”
In a follow-up text message to Favre the next day, New wrote:
“Wow, just got off the phone with Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!”
A lawyer representing former Gov. Bryant, Billy Quin, told ESPN that Favre “continued to press for state funds, first from DHS and later in a legislative appropriation.”
On Sept. 4, 2019, Favre sent a text message to Bryant pressing for an additional $1.8 million to $2 million in funding for the new facility. “We are not taking No for an answer!” he wrote.
Bryant responded, according to the court filing: “We are going to get there. This was a great meeting. But we have to follow the law. I am to[o] old for Federal Prison.”
On April 27, 2020, Bryant texted then-Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett after Favre asked him to reach out to Bennett.
“Maybe he wants the state to pay off his [debts],” Bryant wrote. “Like all of us I like Brett. He is a legend but he has to understand what a pledge means. I have tried many time[s] to explain that to him.”
Six people were arrested in February 2020, including John Davis, former director of Mississippi’s welfare agency. Davis pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple federal and state charges, including five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud against the government.
Judge Adrienne Wooten sentenced Davis to 32 years in prison, and ordered him to pay restitution.
In April Nancy New and her son Zachary New pleaded guilty to state charges of misspending welfare funds on lavish gifts, including first-class airfare and a Chevy Yukon for Davis.
Nancy New is cooperating with prosecutors as part of her plea deal. She and her son are awaiting sentencing. They face 100 years in prison.
Favre and former Gov. Bryant have not been charged. Favre’s attorneys continue to deny any wrongdoing.