More information came to light regarding Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's alleged attempts to funnel at least $5 million of Mississippi's state welfare funds toward a new volleyball venue for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Anna Wolfe of Mississippi Today shared text messages that were released by an attorney for Nancy New, who led a nonprofit and has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud in connection to the wider scandal.
In one text exchange, former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant asked New in July 2019 for help on Favre's "project."
Favre had met with New, state welfare agency director John Davis and representatives from Southern Miss in July 2017 regarding a new volleyball center for the school. His daughter, Breleigh, was a member of the volleyball team in 2017 and 2018.
Wolfe reported those involved found a way to skirt regulations on the usage of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, and the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) pledged $4 million toward the effort.
Favre also received a $1.1 million contract to help promote the project. Per Wolfe, he texted New that he "could record a few radio spots" and that "whatever compensation could go to USM."
New also shared a text from Favre in August 2017 in which he asked: "If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?" She responded her nonprofit never publicized that kind of information.
An audit from MDHS in May 2020 first unearthed the state's deal with Favre and outlined that he was paid for public appearances he didn't make. He quickly addressed the story on social media:
Brett Favre @BrettFavre
2/4 I have never received monies for obligations I didn’t meet. To reiterate Auditors White’s statement, I was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that I am refunding the full amount back to Mississippi.
Wolfe's report lays out how Favre allegedly worked closely with Bryant throughout the process. At one point, New and Favre had one plan that would have put Bryant's name on the volleyball building.
She also noted the 11-time Pro Bowler "received most of the credit for raising funds to construct the facility."
Wolfe previously reported in April on Favre's attempts to get the new volleyball venue off the ground. He also allegedly worked on behalf of Prevacus, a pharmaceutical startup that received $2.15 million in state welfare money.