Phil Bryant helped Brett Favre get welfare funds for volleyball stadium

Former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant helped Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre get hold of welfare funds to assist construct a volleyball heart on the University of Southern Mississippi, in keeping with an investigative report by Mississippi Today.

The outlet reviewed textual content messages from 2017 and 2019 that had been filed Monday in Mississippi’s lawsuit over misspent welfare funds. The submitting was by an legal professional representing Nancy New, who based the Mississippi Community Education Center that was to spend tens of tens of millions in federal welfare funds to assist the state. New has pleaded responsible to 13 felony counts of bribery, fraud and racketeering in what state auditors have decided to be the most important case of public fraud in Mississippi historical past, with not less than $77 million misspent by nonprofit leaders.

The texts allegedly present Favre, New and Bryant (R) conferring on the best way to divert not less than $5 million for a volleyball stadium at Southern Miss, the place Favre performed faculty soccer and his daughter performed volleyball on the time some texts had been despatched.

“If you had been to pay me is there anyway the media can discover out the place it got here from and the way a lot?” a textual content confirmed Favre requested New in 2017. She replied that “we by no means have that data publicized” and instructed him the subsequent day, “Wow, simply received off the telephone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this executed!”

In a July 2019 textual content, Bryant instructed New that he had simply met with Favre and requested if she may assist him.

An legal professional for Favre denied that his consumer knew he had obtained welfare funds. “Brett Favre has been honorable all through this complete factor,” Bud Holmes instructed Mississippi Today. In 2020, Favre instructed the outlet that he had not mentioned the stadium, which isn’t a part of the state’s lawsuit, with Bryant.

Favre and Bryant, who left workplace in January 2020, haven’t been criminally charged, and Bryant didn’t deal with the texts in a press release to Mississippi Today. In it, he accused New’s protection workforce of being “extra involved with pretrial publicity than they’re with civil justice.” The movement filed by New is the defendants’ first direct and public accusation of wrongdoing by Bryant.

Favre final 12 months repaid the state $600,000 he had obtained for speeches he by no means gave as a part of a $1.1 million deal he made in 2017 and 2018 to advertise a poverty-fighting initiative. The state auditor reported that he initially repaid $500,000 and in May the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed a lawsuit in opposition to Favre, saying curiosity on the $1.1 million amounted to $228,000.

States are prohibited from utilizing cash from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program on “brick and mortar” buildings and the hassle to bypass federal rules to construct the volleyball stadium has already resulted in a prison conviction.

Zach New, Nancy New’s son, admitted in an April plea settlement to defrauding the federal government when he participated in a scheme “to disguise the USM development venture as a ‘lease’ as a way of circumventing the restricted objective grant’s strict prohibition in opposition to ‘brick and mortar’ development initiatives in violation of Miss. Code Ann. 97-7-10.”

Favre was briefly questioned greater than two years in the past by the FBI, Mississippi Today reported final week. Holmes instructed the outlet that Favre was requested one query and he believes Favre has not been interviewed since. Mississippi Community Education Center employed Favre Enterprises in 2017 and 2018 to make appearances to advertise Families First for Mississippi, a program designed to assist needy households, and Favre was a no-show for these.

In 2020, the previous NFL quarterback denied that he had “obtained cash for obligations I did not meet,” saying, “I really like Mississippi and I might by no means knowingly do something to remove from those that want it most.”

Mississippi had the very best poverty fee within the nation, with 20.3 p.c dwelling under the poverty line, in keeping with the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. The US poverty fee nationally is 13.4 p.c.

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