Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant appeared to help former NFL quarterback Brett Favre obtain federal welfare money for a new volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi, according to texts entered in the state’s civil suit over the alleged scheme.
The texts, first reported by Mississippi Today’s Anna Wolfe on Tuesday, appear to show how Bryant, the state’s Republican governor from 2012 to 2020, “guided” the former Green Bay Packers quarterback on the funding proposal for the center.
The messages reportedly reveal that Bryant, Favre and other officials worked to direct “at least $5 million” of money intended for the state’s poorest residents toward the center instead.
Favre also received $1.1 million of welfare funds in 2017 and 2018 for “motivational speeches” he never made and was asked by the state auditor to give the money back with interest, NBC News reported earlier this month.
The texts were filed by an attorney who represents Nancy New, a nonprofit founder who pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts earlier this year for her role in the scandal.
Mississippi has the highest poverty rate among states, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Favre scored nearly $140 million during his two-decade NFL career and has received endorsement deals from several companies including Nike, Wrangler, Mastercard and Hyundai.
“Just left Brett Favre, can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course,” Bryant texted New in July 2019.
Favre ― who played for the university as a quarterback and whose daughter played volleyball there ― has denied discussing the volleyball center with Bryant in the past.
His attorney Bud Holmes denied to Mississippi Today that Favre knew the funding was coming from welfare money.
Bryant did not discuss his text message communication in his statement to Mississippi Today, and has previously denied involvement in the alleged scheme.
Bryant and Favre have not been charged with any crime related to the scandal.