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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Fight Over Brett Favre’s Texts Heats Up in Welfare Funds Case

  • Favre has turned over just 24 pages since he became a defendant in welfare agency lawsuit.
  • Favre's texts obtained by other have been made public as the civil case has progressed.
Brett Favre
Rick Wood/USA TODAY Network

Lawyers for the Mississippi Department of Human Services took aim at Brett Favre’s “failure” to produce text messages as part of discovery in the civil case filed over millions of misappropriated welfare funds. 

The agency stated in its 14-page filing on Monday that Favre “has failed to answer any of this discovery” related to his text messages with others involved with the alleged scheme where around $8 million federal welfare funds were funneled to Favre and projects close to the Hall of Fame quarterback. 

“Despite being identified as the sender or recipient on the face of these text messages, Favre objected and claimed he could not verify many of these text messages’ authenticity,” MDHS lawyers wrote in the filing. 

MDHS stated that approximately 330,000 documents have been produced by more than 40 defendants in the case since the lawsuit was filed in May 2022. Favre, so far, has handed over just 24 pages of documents, according to the filing. 

“His production contained no text messages, though MDHS specifically requested text messages with other defendants,” the agency’s legal team wrote.

Several texts that show Favre’s efforts to build a $5 million volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi – Favre’s alma mater and where his daughter played the sport at the time — in 2017. 

“Nancy thank you again!!!” Favre texted Nancy New, the head of the nonprofit where the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds were funneled through for the volleyball center. “John [Davis] mentioned 4 million and not sure if I heard him right. Very big deal and can’t thank you enough 😊.”

John Davis, the former head of MDHS, and New pleaded guilty to several federal and state charges related to the scheme that saw more than $70 million in TANF funds improperly distributed. Favre has not been charged criminally. 

Texts from Favre have been made public as part of the civil case, communications that came from New, Davis and others. But in order for the texts to be used in cout, they have to be authenticated. 

The easiest route would be for Favre to turn over his texts as part of discovery. 

“Favre claims to have no information responsive to a request for a description of documents that have been lost or destroyed, but at the same time, he claims to be unable to authenticate text messages because he does not have them,” MDHS’ attorneys wrote in the filing. 

Beyond the volleyball arena, Favre also allegedly used the scheme in order to take in $1.1 million for speaking engagements he did not carry out and another $1.7 million to fund Prevacus, a pharmaceutical company where Favre was the biggest investor. 

Favre repaid the $1.1 million for the speeches, and has denied he knew the source of the money was from TANF funds, which have restrictions on how the money meant to support the poorest families is used.

“If you were to pay me, is there anyway [sic] the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre wrote in another text to New in August 2017.

On Friday, the welfare agency subpoenaed former University of Southern Mississippi president Rodney Bennett for his electronic communications. Bennett left Southern Miss in June to take over as chancellor for the University of Nebraska. 

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