Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre denied any knowledge of wrongdoing related to a Mississippi state fraud case that alleges he used his influence to divert welfare funds to the University of Southern Mississippi's volleyball program.
"I have been unjustly smeared in the media," Favre said in a statement to Joe Morgan of Fox News. "I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.
"No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me. I tried to help my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university."
The State of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against Favre, former WWE superstar Ted DiBiase and several others accusing them of defrauding the state's welfare system under former Gov. Phil Bryant. Texts sent between Favre and Bryant in 2017 show the Governor instructing the Hall of Famer how to write a proposal to get approval from the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Money earmarked for Mississippi's anti-poverty program was then diverted through a non-profit to the Southern Miss volleyball program, where Favre's daughter played beginning in 2017. Text exchanges between Favre and former Mississippi Community Education Center executive director Nancy New show him asking whether the "media" would be able to find out where the funds originated—evidence that appears to contradict Favre's claim he had no knowledge of wrongdoing.
Adam Ganucheau @GanucheauAdam
Brett Favre: Will the media find out that we're using welfare funds intended to help the poorest residents of America's poorest state to build a volleyball center?<br><br>Nancy New: Nah. Oh yeah, the governor is fully on board!<a href="https://twitter.com/ayewolfe?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ayewolfe</a> five years later: <a href="https://t.co/rWXHRXISsu">https://t.co/rWXHRXISsu</a> <a href="https://t.co/wo3QuIYXaY">pic.twitter.com/wo3QuIYXaY</a>
New and her son, Zachary New, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in April. As part of their plea agreement, they agreed to testify against others who will be charged in the case.
There have been no criminal charges filed against Favre at this time. It is unclear if the state plans to pursue any criminal charges.