MILWAUKEE — The former governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, helped former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre get welfare funds to build a volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi, a report from Mississippi Today revealed Tuesday.
The report cites text messages filed in the state's lawsuit over misspent welfare funds. The text messages were filed by an attorney representing Nancy New, who has pleaded guilty for her role in the welfare scheme. Nancy New and her son once ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi that spent millions of dollars in federal welfare funds to help the state.
Mississippi auditors found leaders of the nonprofit misspent at least $77 million of that money. According to Mississippi Today reporting, the text messages show Favre, Bryant and New discussed how to move $5 million in welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre played at Southern Miss and his daughter was a volleyball player there at the time some of the text messages were sent.
Other text messages show Bryant said to New that he had met with Favre and asked her if she could help with the volleyball court.
Bud Holmes, who represents Favre, told Mississippi Today that he denied knowing about the welfare funds. "Brett Favre has been honorable throughout this whole thing," Holmes said.
Bryant has previously denied his involvement in the alleged scheme. Bryant and Favre have not been criminally charged. The volleyball stadium is not part of Mississippi's civil lawsuit.
The state auditor has demanded repayment of $77 million of misspent welfare funds, including the $1.1 million paid to the retired NFL quarterback.
Favre also previously said his charity had provided millions of dollars to poor children in Mississippi, where he lives, and Wisconsin, where he was a star with the Green Bay Packers.
In 2021, Favre paid back $600,000 to Mississippi for speeches he never gave. In that state, Favre was commissioned to promote an anti-poverty initiative and received $1.1 million for the speeches.
Mississippi Today is a nonprofit investigative news outlet focusing on watch-dog journalism.