New court documents in the Mississippi welfare scam revealed that Brett Favre tried to misappropriate funds again in 2019, this time for a new football practice facility for Southern Mississippi University.
Text messages between Favre and former governor Phil Bryant detail how Favre sought to duplicate the funding he received for the university’s volleyball court, applying it this time to the football program. The efforts came amidst a major recruiting push by Favre to try and bring quarterback Shedeur Sanders to Hattisburg, notably the son of Deion Sanders, who eventually signed with Jackson State after his father was named head coach of the HBCU.
“I need your influence somehow to get donations and or sponsorships,” Favre texted Bryant. “Obviously Southern has no money so I’m hustling to get it raised.”
Bryant’s lawyers are fighting back, saying the revealed text messages show no evidence that Favre and Bryant wanted to use public funds, and that their focus was on private investment. However, this justification is largely semantic and doesn’t really hold water. The entire fraud scheme revolved around funneling Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, through a nonprofit owned by Nancy New as a way to mask public funding as private donation.
Using that as a defense, and claiming neither party meant to infer that public funds should be used is a fairly weak defense, especially when Favre directly referred to the 2017 funding for the Southern Mississippi volleyball court, which did come from TANF funds misappropriated by New.
“I want you to know how much I love Nancy New and John Davis,” Favre wrote. “What they have done for me and Southern Miss is amazing.”
Bryant’s lawyers claim that the governor did not know TANF funds were used for the volleyball court until Favre sent him the above text in 2019. However, there is text message evidence from 2017 that shows Favre mentioned New and her nonprofit to Bryant on numerous occasions, including regarding the construction of the volleyball court, and an investment in concussion drug Prevacus, which Favre was a key player in.
The former governor has been working to suppress the public release of text messages, with his lawyers claiming that Bryant is the victim, going so far as to insinuate that public release of the text messages serves as reprisal for Bryant standing against the welfare fraud.
“This motion was brought in bad faith and solely to annoy, embarrass, and oppress Governor Bryant because he refused to turn a blind eye to the crimes perpetrated by New and Davis.”
There seems to be at least some cognizance by Bryant that Favre’s suggestions for funding were breaking the law, because one of the final messages released to the court said the following:
“We are going to get there. This was a great meeting. But we have to follow the law. I am to [sic] old for Federal Prison.” He added a smiling emoji with sunglasses.
Absolutely a normal message someone would send who was seeking to raise private funding for a football practice facility.
We will continue to monitor the Favre situation as it develops, and as the state of Mississippi continues to build a case against perpetrators of the welfare scheme.