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Brett Favre’s alleged role in the Mississippi welfare scandal took another twist on Wednesday night.
Favre’s charity, Favre 4 Hope, donated more than $130,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation from 2018 to 2020, according to multiple reports.
The reported findings in tax records came days after texts revealed former Gov. Phil Bryant texted in 2019 with Favre about getting additional cash for an indoor practice facility for the University of Southern Mississippi football team. Bryant told him federal money for children and low-income adults is “tightly controlled” and “improper use could result in violation of Federal Law.”
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Favre 4 Hope, a foundation that “supports charities that provide support to underserved and disabled children and breast cancer patients,” gave the school’s athletic foundation $60,000, and in 2019, gave just over $26,175, according to multiple reports. Between 2011 and 2017, the foundation reportedly gave nearly $48,000 and additionally gave his daughter’s high school $70,000 between 2013 and 2015.
“He has been very generous to Southern Miss since he played ball there,” Bud Holmes, Favre’s attorney, told ESPN. “Those particular things [the donations in question] I don’t know, but I know he has always given back, something most athletes don’t do.”
Text messages between Bryant and Favre were filed in court documents by the former governor’s lawyers, which seek to show that Bryant was willing to help Favre raise private money for the volleyball facility in 2017 and was unaware that more than two years of the state’s welfare money was going towards the project.
Favre’s request for money from the Mississippi Department of Human Services, made on July 28, 2019, to fund the football facility went nowhere. Favre played college football at Southern Miss, and his daughter played volleyball at the school in 2017.
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Court papers suggested Bryant first learned Favre was trying to raise money for a volleyball arena on April 20, 2017. Texts showed Favre asked for Bryant’s “influence to get donations or sponsor ships.” Bryant replied, he was “all in” on the volleyball facility.
In July 2017, Favre texted Bryant about the facility again asking whether the then-governor knew of anyone who would build it for free.
“It is important to note that, in these early text messages, Favre never mentioned the use of public funds, much less the use of TANF funds for the construction of the facility,” Bryant’s attorney wrote Friday. “At this time, the discussions between Favre and Governor Bryant were focused on private donations and corporate sponsorships.”
The Athletic first reported on Favre’s foundation’s donations.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer is under investigation amid the welfare scandal. He received $1.1 million in appearance and speaking fees he allegedly never made, according to the state auditor. He paid the money back, but the state is still seeking $228,000 in unpaid interest.
Favre has not been criminally charged.
A former director for the Mississippi Department of Human Services, John Davis, pleaded guilty last week to federal and state felony charges in conspiracy to misspend welfare money. Bryant appointed Davis to the position in February 2016 and fired him in July 2019. Davis agreed to testify against others.
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Attorneys for the Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit run by Nancy New and Zachary New, sent a subpoena to Bryant in late July seeking communication between Bryant and Favre. The News pleaded guilty to state charges of misusing welfare money and agreed to testify against others.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.