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Friday, June 14, 2024

The Early Warning That Linked Brett Favre to Impending Scandal

  • An associate in a project involving Favre received a call in 2019 to warn about approaching welfare probe.
  • The call came months before the first stories that attached Favre to Mississippi scandal.
Brett Favre standing next to his bust during NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

Months before the first news reports linked Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre to the Mississippi welfare scandal, one of his business associates got a call. 

“I wanted you to know that Jake and Brett are going to be part of the biggest welfare fraud case in the history of the state of Mississippi,” the caller said. “It may become the biggest welfare scandal in the history of the country.”

That caller then hung up. 

Front Office Sports confirmed the contents of that call in late 2019 with multiple sources with knowledge of the conversation that mentioned Favre and Prevacus founder Jake VanLandingham. 

Those individuals were granted anonymity by FOS because of the ongoing investigation into the matter. 

The first report that introduced Favre’s potential role in the scandal was published by Mississippi Today on Feb. 27, 2020 as state investigators began to unravel how at least $77 million in welfare funds were misspent. 

Both Favre and VanLandingham have said they didn’t know the source of the $2.2 million of funds Prevacus received came from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, a federal program that assists families living well under the poverty line. 

“That’s horse— t,” one source involved with Prevacus at the time said. “They all knew.”

Another source familiar with internal conversations at Prevacus at the time told FOS that Favre and others at Prevacus had knowledge the funds were coming from the state’s welfare agency, and an investor presentation mentions the state welfare agency under “funding opportunities.”

“Favre said the money was coming from a state fund for children’s health and safety,” a source told FOS in October

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, who took to Twitter last year to respond to Favre, is among the handful of agencies investigating the misappropriated welfare funds. White hasn’t stated to FOS or any other outlet that Favre knew the source of the money came from TANF funds.

Brett Favre

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Favre has been linked to about $8 million in misspent welfare funds in total. 

Outside Prevacus, Favre also received $1.1 million to give speeches that he did not perform, and he lobbied for $5 million that went toward a volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi, his alma mater.

Favre and VanLandingham are among several defendants in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Mississippi Department of Human Services as the agency seeks to recover the misspent funds. 

Both are also on the radar of federal and state investigators as part of a criminal investigation that has already brought charges against several figures in the case, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. 

Those individuals include former welfare agency director John Davis along with Nancy New and her son, Zach, who were in charge of a nonprofit where the welfare money was funneled through and to projects involving Favre.

Favre and VanLandingham have not been charged with any crimes, although a source told FOS that federal investigators have made new efforts in recent weeks to pinpoint Favre’s alleged involvement in securing the funds. 

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