AnTuesday saw the announcement that former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was a key figure in helping NFL legend Brett Favre get welfare funds to build a new volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The news organization reviewed the text messages filed Monday in the civil case against Mississippi for misusing welfare funds. Nancy New's attorney filed the texts. New has already pleaded guilty in 13 felony cases to bribery fraud and racketeering. New was the founder Mississippi Community Education Center. It was charged with spending millions of federal welfare funds to aid the state.
In the largest case of public corruption in Mississippi history, state auditors found that nonprofit leaders had misappropriated welfare funds at least $77million.
Favre, New, and Bryant discuss how to divert at most $5 million in welfare funds for the construction of a Southern Miss volleyball stadium. Favre was a football player at Southern Miss and his daughter was a volleyball coach there when the texts were sent.
“If you were going to pay me, is there any way the media could find out where it came and how much?” Favre asked New in 2017.
Favre told her that she never had that information published. She circled back the next day.
“Wow, just got off phone with Phil Bryant! We are glad he is here! We'll get it done!” New told Favre.
Bryant sent another text in July 2019, telling New that he just finished his meeting with Favre, and asked her if she could help him with the project.
Mississippi Today was denied by Bud Holmes, Favre's lawyer, that the former quarterback knew that he had received welfare funds.
Holmes stated that Brett Favre was honorable through the whole affair.
Favre told the outlet that Bryant had not been involved in the discussion about the volleyball stadium project.
Bryant, who was elected in January 2020, denied ever directing welfare funds to the stadium. Bryant also didn't address the text of a Mississippi Today statement that accuses New's defense team, “more concerned with pretrial publicity than they are with civil Justice.”
Mississippi Today reported the stadium was not included in the state's civil suit. Bryant and Favre have not been charged with a crime.
Favre paid $600,000.00 back to Mississippi last fiscal year. He had received money for speeches that he did not give. Favre received $1.1 million in funding to promote a state poverty-fighting program. According to the State Auditor's Office report, Favre initially paid back $500,000 but was then asked to repay the rest plus interest in a letter earlier this month.
In May, the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed civil suit against Favre for not paying interest on $1.1 million, which amounted $228,000.
Mississippi Today has obtained text messages from the filing that indicate that the $1.1 million agreement with the state was another method of financing the volleyball stadium.
This report was contributed by Reuters