Friday, Sept. 22, 2023|
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JACKSON, Miss. — Newly revealed text messages show how deeply involved a Mississippi governor was in directing 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 going to help low-income families in one of the nation’s poorest states, as intended, it was funneled through a nonprofit group and was spent on a new $5 million volleyball facility at a university that the football star and the governor both attended.
One of the texts from 2017 showed Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who left office in 2020, was “on board” with the arrangement. The state is suing Favre and others, alleging they misspent millions of dollars in welfare money. The director of the nonprofit has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Mississippi’s largest public corruption case in decades.
The texts were in court documents filed Monday in state court by an attorney for the nonprofit known as the Mississippi Community Education Center.
Messages between Favre and the center’s executive director, Nancy New, included references to Bryant. The documents also included 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 course.”
New responded: “I would appreciate having the opportunity to follow through with all the good things we are working on, especially projects like Brett’s.”
Later that day, New texted Favre to let him know she was meeting with the governor.
“I love John so much. And you too,” Favre responded to New, referring to the Mississippi Department of Human Services director at the time, John Davis.
The texts also showed 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 direct the money to the volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre played football at the university in Hattiesburg before going to the NFL in 1991, and his daughter started playing on the volleyball team there in 2017.
According to court documents, Favre texted New on Aug. 3, 2017: “If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?”
New responded: “No, we never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that though. Let’s see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks at Southern. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully.”
Favre responded: “Ok thanks.”
The next day, New texted Favre: “Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!”
Favre responded: “Awesome I needed to hear that for sure.”
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