JACKSON, ma’am. –
After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre’s pet project, a college volleyball arena, the retired NFL quarterback tried two years later to get more money from the base. state welfare agency for another sports facility, new court documents show.
The governor at the time, Phil Bryant, a Republican, texted in 2019 with Favre, who wanted to build an indoor practice facility for the University of Southern Mississippi football team. Bryant told him that federal money for children and low-income adults is “strictly regulated” and that “improper use may lead to violations of Federal Law.”
The text messages between Bryant and Favre were included in court documents filed by Bryant’s attorneys Friday, which sought to show the governor’s willingness to help Favre raise private funds for the baseball facility. started in 2017 and didn’t know for more than two years that welfare money would go into the project.
Mississippi’s largest-ever public corruption case has resulted in multiple arrests, including a professional wrestler, drug addict funded by welfare money.
The state filed a civil lawsuit against Favre and others to recover more than $20 million in omissions to help impoverished people in one of the country’s poorest states. Bryant and Favre do not face criminal charges, and Bryant is not among those named in the state civil lawsuit.
A former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, John Davis, on Thursday pleaded guilty to federal and state felony charges in a conspiracy to spend welfare money. Davis was appointed by Bryant in February 2016 and fired by him in July 2019. Davis agreed to testify against the others.
Attorneys for the nonprofit organization being sued, the Mississippi Center for Community Education, subpoenaed Bryant in late July, seeking contact between the former governor and any other person. about the volleyball arena.
The nonprofit is run by Nancy New and her son, Zachary New, who in April pleaded guilty to charges of misusing state welfare funds. They also agreed to testify against others.
In a court filing on Friday, Bryant objected to making the material available unless it was under a protective order to prevent the content from being released.
Bryant’s attorney wrote: “This proposal was made with malicious intent and was only intended to upset, shame and suppress Governor Bryant because he refused to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by New and Davis. .
Favre’s request for money from the Mississippi Department of Human Services to fund the football facility went nowhere. Favre made the request on July 28, 2019, when he unsuccessfully tried to recruit the son of another retired NFL player, Deion Sanders, to college in Hattiesburg.
Favre played football at the University of Southern Mississippi before going to the NFL in 1991. Bryant and New are also alumni, and Favre wrote to Bryant that having an indoor practice facility would give the football program a “strong” edge. instant credibility”.
Favre’s daughter started playing college volleyball in 2017. New court papers say Bryant first learned that Favre was trying to raise money for a volleyball arena on April 20, 2017. 2017, when Favre texted the governor to say that he and his wife, Deanna, had built the facility.
“I need your influence somehow to get donations and or sponsorships,” Favre texted Bryant. “Obviously Southern doesn’t have the money so I’m rushing to raise funds.”
The documents say Bryant replied hours later, “Of course I’m in the volleyball court. … One thing I know how to do is fundraise. ‘”
In July 2017, Favre texted Bryant about the volleyball facility again, asking “if we can find a contractor who can say hi instead of giving you money, I’ll build it for free !! Maybe you know someone.”
Bryant replied that he “got through it all.”
“It is important to note that, in these initial text messages, Favre never mentioned the use of public funds, much less the use of TANF funds for facility construction,” Bryant’s attorney wrote. on Friday. “At this time, discussions between Favre and Governor Bryant focus on private donations and corporate funding.”
In July 2017, court records show Davis and Nancy New met about using welfare money to fund a volleyball arena, in which Davis pledged $4 million. New’s nonprofit later paid Favre $1.1 million for talks to help him pay for the arena. Favre never made the speeches and later repaid the money, though he has not yet repaid $228,000 in interest.
Bryant’s attorneys wrote that the governor first learned of Human Services’ involvement in volleyball arena sponsorship in a text message he received from Favre on July 16, 2019. “I want you to know how much I love Nancy New and John Davis,” Favre wrote. “What they have done for me and Miss South is amazing.”
Favre writes that there are plans to run youth workshops and clinics in the volleyball facility with a program run by Nancy New.
“And I also paid for 3/4 of the Vball facility and the rest was a joint project with her and John, saving me 1.8 million,” Favre texted Bryant. “I was informed today that she may not be able to fund her part. I and we desperately need the Governor’s help and apologize for bringing this up.”
Bryant’s attorneys wrote that “Favre began an active campaign to lobby the governor to help him cover the debt owed by the USM Volleyball Center.” They also wrote that Favre had not paid three-quarters of the construction costs and that Human Services committed more than $1.8 million to the project.
According to court documents on Friday, Bryant and Favre met on September 4, 2019, with the new director of the Department of Human Services, retired FBI agent Christopher Freeze. Favre texted Bryant after the meeting: “We clearly need your help and time is working against us.” Favre also mentioned that the volleyball facility could be named for Bryant, who is in his final months as governor.
Bryant replied: “We will go there. This is a great meeting. But we must obey the law. I’m too old to go to Federal Prison. “He added a smiling emoji with sunglasses.