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‘I Have Done Nothing Wrong’: Brett Favre Denies Any Wrong Doing In Mississippi Welfare Fraud Case, Says He Didn’t Know His Seven-Figure Payouts Were for the Poorest In the State

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre is once again disputing claims that he knew that the millions of dollars he helped secure for a volleyball facility was from Mississippi’s welfare fund.

Favre is among 38 people or entities being sued by the state for misusing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.

According to court documents, Favre, state officials and the head of a local nonprofit worked together to raise around $5 million for a volleyball facility for the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). A portion of the money was allocated from a Block Grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) in October 2017, which was supposed to help the state’s neediest families.

Largest Public Fraud In State History': Mississippi Lawsuit Against Brett Favre and Others Untangles Web of Squandered, Misspent Millions Intended to Help the Poorest In The State
The Mississippi Department of Human Services has sued former NFL Player Brett Favre ad 37 other defendants for misspending welfare funds. (Photo: Twitter/Brett Favre)

Favre claims that he never knew the money was for the poorest state in the nation’s welfare fund.

“I have been unjustly smeared in the media,” Favre said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.”

Favre spoke out against claims that he knew where the money came from in May 2020 months after receiving a letter demanding that he repay funds that he received for the volleyball wellness center. According to reports, Favre was paid $1.1 million for speaking arrangements and fundraising radio spots. He said that he would never have taken the money if he knew it wasn’t being used how it should. He reportedly paid back the $1.1 million but still owes the state interest.

Mississippi is seeking $3.2 million in damages and legal fees from Favre in its civil lawsuit. State officials claim Favre never did the speeches. His pharmaceutical company, Prevacus Inc., also received $1.7 million for doing clinical trials of a concussion drug in the state.

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White reportedly uncovered the welfare fraud scheme, calling it the “largest public fraud in state history.”

The state auditor is requesting an overall repayment of $77 million as a result of the scheme that was reportedly orchestrated by the former head of the welfare agency John Davis.

Davis pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and fraud charges in December. Authorities accused Davis of funneling millions of dollars to nonprofits to fund pet projects including the stadium and the other distributions for Favre.

The payments to Favre and the grant for the study were pass-through to the Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit run by Nancy New.

New and her son, Zachary, also plead guilty to state charges associated with the scheme in exchange for testifying against the other four suspects. Davis’ plea deal also makes him a witness in the case in exchange for the dismissal of his state charges.

Favre said he agreed to help raise the funds for the center because he wanted to help his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi. The three-time NFL MVP said he was told the funds were approved by the state and were screened by the USM legal team, the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office. 

“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,” he said.

Copies of text messages filed in the civil case show that former Gov. Phil Bryant also helped Favre draft the proposal that was accepted by the welfare agency. White said the texts messages show Favre knew the money was coming from the agency that manages the welfare fund, but there is no evidence he knew it was from the TANF program, which provides cash assistance for Mississippi families with children under 18.

“Now, whether or not Mr. Favre knew that this money was specifically coming from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, there are no documents out in the public right now that suggest that,” White continued. “There are no documents that suggest the attorney said he never committed to radio spots and not speaking arrangements. The text messages show the radio fundraisers were Favre’s idea.”

The texts also show Favre was concerned about the money being tracked back to the source.

“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre wrote to New on Aug. 3, 2017.

“No, we never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that though,” New replied. “Let’s see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks at Southern. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully.”

The Mississippi Department of Human Services approved just 1.5% of it TANF applications in 2016, the same year Davis joined the agency. The former director is accused of stealing the funding up until 2019. Favre has not been charged with any criminal offenses associated with the scheme.

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