Texts suggest Favre was central figure in welfare scheme

In an examination of the ongoing welfare fraud scandal in Mississippi, Sports Illustrated suggested that Brett Favre had far more involvement than previously reported.

The lengthy report from Michael Rosenberg reviewed text messages exchanged between the Hall of Fame quarterback, former Gov. Phil Bryant, nonprofit executive director Nancy New and several other participants who are alleged to have moved public dollars designated for the state’s neediest citizens toward the construction of a new volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi. Separate from the groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning work from Mississippi Today that largely trailed Bryant and other government officials, SI obtained legal filings and records as well as dozens of text messages that indicate Favre was an active participant in the scheme through frequently assertive requests for funds toward building the facility.

In spotlighting Favre’s activity, Rosenberg surmised:

At times, the former quarterback comes off as comically clueless. Often, he seems highly manipulative. Throughout, he was relentless in his pursuit of government money. After (state welfare agency director John) Davis was forced out of his job at the Department of Human Services and the scheme started to splinter, Favre kept pushing. At one point he told New, “I’ll keep asking weekly.” Shortly before the arrests, as he fretted about securing cash, he wrote in a text, “I [can’t] focus on anything else with this looming.”

Three years later, something else looms over Favre: the distinct possibility he will be indicted.

Many of the texts provided to SI were not previously made public. Bryant himself fought in court to ensure he wouldn’t have to turn over any messages, but SI was able to obtain many of the conversations through phone records from other parties.

Among the most damaging text conversations was one that took place shortly after Bryant fired Davis for inadvertently getting exposed due to the initial investigation. Favre had grown concerned that the money would not come through, so he went around New to talk with Bryant:

Favre then went right back to lobbying the governor for money. This time, Favre told Bryant they were “planning to do workshops and youth clinics” in the volleyball facility, though there is no indication those workshops and clinics ever happened. Favre also told Bryant he paid for “3/4” of the project himself, and “the rest was a joint project with her and John which was saving me 1.8 million.” How Favre came up with those numbers is a mystery.

Favre wrote to Bryant: “I was informed today that [New] may not be able to fund her part. I and we need your help very badly governor and sorry to even bring this up.”

Bryant should have seen it was time to end this. But the governor just wouldn’t quit Brett Favre.

Bryant texted him: “I will handle that … long story but had to make a change. But I will call Nancy and see what it will take.”

Favre apparently met with Bryant for less than an hour. When the quarterback departed, Bryant texted New: “Just left Brett Favre. 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 told Favre she was meeting with Bryant two days later.

Favre wrote back: “I love John so much. And you too.”

The report also connects the dots on how the building was able to circumvent the law, which explicitly stated that the public assistance money could not be diverted toward “bricks and mortar” projects such as the volleyball arena.

Favre recently dropped his defamation case against Pat McAfee, the former NFL kicker turned media personality who reported the case on his show earlier this year. (His other defamation suits against state auditor Shad White and fellow Hall of Famer and Fox Sports personality Shannon Sharpe are still active.)

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Favre implicated as key player in welfare plot based on textual evidence.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre was allegedly a key player in a welfare fraud scandal in Mississippi, according to Michael Rosenberg, writing for Sports Illustrated. He reviewed text exchanges between Favre, former governor Phil Bryant and others alleged to have used public money to fund a volleyball facility. The report details Favre’s “relentless” pursuit of government money, even after John Davis, the ex-director of the Department of Human Services, was forced out of his job and the scheme threatened to fragment. Favre recently dropped a defamation case against media personality Pat McAfee who raised the claims.

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