Text messages link Favre, welfare money, volleyball facility

NOW: Text messages link Favre, welfare money, volleyball facility

JACKSON, Miss. (CBS 58) -- Newly-released text messages allegedly show the former governor of Mississippi tried to help Brett Favre secure millions of dollars that should have gone to a welfare program.

It's the latest development in Favre's involvement in the largest public fraud scandal in Mississippi history.

Favre wanted to build a volleyball facility at his alma mater. The new text messages show former Governor Phil Bryant helped get Favre $5 million that should have gone to the state's neediest people.

The civil lawsuit alleges tens of millions of federal dollars was supposed to go to a welfare program, but was instead wasted through misspending, personal use, and on family and friends, including Favre.

"Just left Brett Farve (sic)," wrote former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant in July 2019, "Can we help him with his project."

The project was a $5 million volleyball facility at Favre's alma mater, Southern Mississippi University, where his daughter played at the time.

The message was to Nancy New, the founder of a non-profit organization called The Mississippi Community Education Center.

The next day New texted Favre, saying "Just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!"

But the money wasn't supposed to fund Favre's pet project, it was supposed to help the poorest Mississippians in the welfare system.

The texts were included in a legal filing this week as part of a lawsuit related to misspent welfare funds.

Mississippi's ongoing investigation alleges the state gave more than $98 million to two non-profit organizations, one of them Nancy New's.

But $94 million of it was "questioned", meaning it was either flat out misspent or auditors could not prove it was spent legally.

New funneled the $5 million from the federal grant through her non-profit into the volleyball facility project.

Nancy New and her son were convicted in April for their roles in the scheme.

Additionally, New's organization also paid Favre $1.1 million for speeches he never gave.

In May 2020 he tweeted, "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.”

In Oct. 2021, Favre repaid the state $600,000, but authorities said he still owed $228,000 in interest.

Neither Favre nor former Governor Bryant have been charged with wrongdoing.

Favre's attorney denied any wrongdoing to CNN, saying "since the very beginning, Brett has been honorable from day one to today."

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