The recently introduced text messages show Favre and former Gov. Bryant discussing how to channel $5 million in public funds toward Favre’s volleyball project.
Attorneys have revealed that former N.F.L. quarterback and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant exchanged text messages discussing how to use state welfare funds to construct a $5 million volleyball center at a local university.
According to Mississippi Today, Favre, Bryant, and other top-ranked officials discussed the best ways to allegedly misappropriate millions of dollars that had early been earmarked for the state’s benefits programs.
The texts, adds Mississippi Today¸ were filed in the state’s civil lawsuit regarding the welfare funds scandal.
An attorney representing the Mississippi Community Education Center—whose founder, Nancy New, had previously pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts for her participation in the scheme—entered the text messages into evidence.
The alleged conversations all occurred between 2017 and 2019, when Favre’s daughter was a student at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre’s daughter, adds The Hill, was a member of the school’s women’s volleyball team.
“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre asked Nancy New in 2017.
New responded by saying that her organization “never [has] that information publicized,” before informing Favre that then-Gov. Bryant approved of the plan.
“Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!” New told Favre.
Two years later, Bryant informed New—who was tasked with disbursing tens of millions of dollars in state welfare funds—that he had met with Favre and wanted the Mississippi Community Education Center to provide additional funding for Favre’s project.
“Just left Brett Favre,” Bryant wrote in a text message. “Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course.”
When the governor later asked New whether she had approved any of the projects through the Mississippi Department of Human Services, New responded—in part—that “someone” was “definitely pulling for us behind the scenes.”
Bryant responded with a “smile emoji.”
An attorney for the former governor issued a statement clarifying that Bryant is not a party to the lawsuit, and suggested that New’s legal counsel is trying to concoct a biased narrative.
“Governor Bryant notified Nancy New’s attorney that he would produce the requested documents even though he isn’t a party to the lawsuit. All of the documents are privileged, so Governor Bryant requested that New’s attorney agree to a protective order that would allow the documents to be used in court with certain reasonable restrictions,” attorney William M. Quin II said in a statement republished by CNN.
“Cases should be tried in courts of law where rules of evidence govern and privileges are respected. They should not be tried in the press, where innuendo and speculation sometimes get confused with actual facts. It appears that New’s attorney prefers to try his client’s case in the latter as opposed to the former.”
Attorneys for Favre maintain that their client had simply requested funding, and had never been informed that the money was being drawn from the state’s welfare fund.
“He had no idea where it came from. When it developed later that this money he was paid for speaking came out of money designed by the government […] for the less fortunate or poor people, Brett paid it back,” Favre attorney Bud Holmes said.