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Brett Favre Did What Now?

New text messages that were entered into a Mississippi civil lawsuit reveal former Governor Phil Bryant worked with Brett Favre (yes, the Brett Favre) on an almost cartoonishly evil plot to funnel millions in welfare intended for the state’s poorest residents towards a new volleyball stadium.

The then-governor had just ousted the former agency welfare director for suspected fraud, but was still texting Favre and nonprofit founder Nancy New about their plans to get a new volleyball stadium funded at University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played on the team.

“Just left Brett Favre,” Bryant texted New in the summer of 2019, not long after David had left. “Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course.”

Favre asked Bryant how Davis’ departure would impact their plan, and Bryant responded “I will handle that… long story but had to make a change. But I will call Nancy and see what it will take.”

In August of 2017, Favre asked New, “If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?”

“No,” New responds. “We never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that though. 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 next day, New texted Favre: “Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!”

“Awesome,” Favre responds. “I needed to hear that for sure.”

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At the time, New was in charge of a nonprofit that directed tens of millions in federal welfare. Since then, the state auditor has found around $77 million of those funds were misspent in what is now the biggest public fraud case in Mississippi history. New herself has pled guilty to 17 felony counts and has taken a plea deal in which she is aiding prosecutors.

The court filing says that the allegations are “not based on speculation or conjecture …The evidence suggests that MDHS Executives, including Governor Bryant, knew that Favre was seeking funds from MDHS to build the Volleyball Facility … and participated in directing, approving, or providing Favre MDHS funds to be used for construction of the Volleyball Facility.”

The whole story is lengthy and convoluted, stretching back to 2017 with a number of twists and turns along the way. It is also, like a lot of stories in this genre, very dumb. But it’s also a reminder of how cavalier people can be about funds meant to alleviate the pain of the poor, and maybe a corrective on what we think about when we think about “welfare queens.”

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