Monday, September 26, 2022

Former NFL QB Favre seeks welfare funding for football facility, texts reveal CBC Sports

After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre’s pet project, a varsity volleyball field, the retired NFL quarterback spent two years trying to get extra cash from the state’s welfare agency for another sports facility, the new Show court documents.

Republican Phil Bryant, the governor at the time, texted in 2019 with Favre, who wanted to build an indoor practice facility for the University of Southern Mississippi’s football team. Bryant told them that federal funding for children and low-income adults is “strictly controlled” and that “improper use could result in a violation of federal law.”

Text messages between Bryant and Favre are in court documents filed Friday by Bryant’s attorneys that want to show that the governor was willing to help Favre raise private funds for a volleyball facility beginning in 2017 and Was unaware for more than two years that welfare money was going. to the project.

Mississippi’s largest public corruption case to date has implicated several people, including a pro wrestler whose drug rehab was funded with welfare money.

The state has filed a civil suit against Favre and others to recover more than $20 million in misplaced welfare funds aimed at helping those in need in one of the country’s poorest states. Bryant and Favre are not facing criminal charges, and Bryant is not among those named in the state’s civil trial.

John Davis, a former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal and state felony charges of conspiracy to misappropriate welfare funds. Davis was hired by Bryant in February 2016 and was fired by him in July 2019. Davis has agreed to testify against the others.

Lawyers for a non-profit organization being sued, the Mississippi Community Education Center, sent Bryant a subpoena in late July, seeking communication between the former governor and anyone else regarding the volleyball field.

The nonprofit was run by Nancy New and her son, Zachary New, who pleaded guilty in April to state charges of misappropriating welfare funds. They also agreed to testify against others.

The request for money did not go anywhere

In a court filing on Friday, Bryant objected to the production of the documents unless it was under a protective order preventing the public’s release of the material.

Bryant’s lawyers wrote, “This motion was brought in bad faith and solely to harass, embarrass and harass Governor Bryant because he refused to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by New and Davis. Had given.”

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, as he was unsuccessfully trying to enroll the son of another retired NFL player, Deion Sanders, to the University of Hattiesburg.

Favre played football at the University of Southern Mississippi before moving to the NFL in 1991. Bryant and New are also alumni, and Favre wrote to Bryant that having an indoor practice facility would give “immediate credibility” to the football program.

Favre’s daughter began playing volleyball at the university in 2017. New court papers say Bryant first learned that Favre was trying to raise money for a volleyball field on April 20, 2017, when Favre texted the governor to say that he and his The wife was Dina. facility construction.

“I need your influence in some way to receive donations and/or sponsorships,” Favre wrote to Bryant. “Obviously Southern doesn’t have any money so I’m trying to raise it.”

The documents said Bryant responded a few hours later, “Of course I’m at a volleyball facility. … the one thing I know how to do is raise money.”

In July 2017, Favre wrote again to Bryant about the volleyball facility, “Can we find a contractor who instead of paying you money will say I’ll build for free!! Maybe you know of someone be.”

‘Never mention the use of public money’

Bryant replied that he was “all over.”

Bryant’s lawyers wrote Friday, “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 to build the facility. ” “At this time, discussions between Favre and Governor Bryant focused on private donations and corporate sponsorship.”

In July 2017, court records show that Davis and Nancy New met about using welfare money to fund the volleyball field, in which Davis invested $4 million. New’s nonprofit later paid Favre $1.1 million for speaking engagements to help pay for the arena. Favre never gave the speech and later repaid the money, although he did not pay the $228,000 in interest.

Bryant’s lawyers wrote that the governor first learned that Human Services was involved with funding the volleyball field in a text message 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’ve done for me and Southern Miss is amazing.”

Favre wrote that the volleyball facility had plans to hold workshops and youth clinics, along with a program run by Nancy New.

“Plus I paid for the 3/4 Vball facility and the rest was a joint project with him and John saving me 1.8 million,” Favre texted Bryant. “I was informed today that she may not be able to finance her share. Me and we need your help very badly and are sorry to bring it up.”

Bryant’s lawyers wrote that “Favre launched a campaign to aggressively lobby the governor to help cover the debt at USM Volleyball Center.” He also wrote that Favre had not paid for three-quarters of the construction cost, and that Human Services committed more than $1.8 million to the project.

According to Friday court documents, Bryant and Favre met with the new Department of Human Services director, retired FBI agent Christopher Freeze, on September 4, 2019. Favre texted Bryant after the meeting: “We clearly need your help and time is working against us.” Favre also noted that the volleyball facility may be named after Bryant, who was in his final months as governor.

Bryant replied: “We’re about to get there. It was a great meeting. But we have to follow the law. I’m too old for federal prison.” He added a smiling emoji with sunglasses.

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