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Brett Favre Will Remain A Defendant In Welfare Lawsuit, Mississippi Supreme Court Rules

Brett Favre on a field in a crowd wearing a yellow blazer
The Mississippi Supreme Court denied Brett Favre’s request to be dismissed from the State’s civil lawsuit designed to recover millions in misspent welfare funds in an order on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023. AP Photo/Matt Ludtke, File

Brett Favre will remain a defendant in the State of Mississippi’s civil lawsuit designed to recover millions in misspent welfare funds, the Mississippi Supreme Court decided in an order Wednesday. The former NFL quarterback had asked the court to dismiss him from the case.

“After due consideration, the panel finds the petition for interlocutory appeal should be denied. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Brett Favre’s Petition for Interlocutory Appeal is hereby denied,” the short order says, without explaining the court’s reasoning.

Favre is one of dozens of defendants in the lawsuit. The Mississippi Department of Human Services’ lawsuit is suing him for millions, including over $5 million in welfare funds that were spent on a volleyball stadium; $1.7 million to the company Prevacus for the development of a concussion drug he was invested in; and $1.1 million that a nonprofit used Temporary Assistance For Needy Families funds to pay him to give speeches and record ads.

Favre returned the funds he received for the speeches in 2021 (though he denies that he failed to complete the terms of the agreement), but did not pay $228,000 in interest that the state auditor said he owed. He has denied knowing the funds either for the speeches or for the stadium or drug company came from welfare funds. Despite being a defendant in the civil case, he is not a criminal defendant and neither state nor federal investigators have accused him of a crime.

“As noted, MDHS does not—because it cannot—allege that Favre understood that using ‘grant funds’ for the (volleyball) center would involve TANF funds: ‘grant funds’ can mean many things, and there is nothing unusual about state officials using ‘grant funds’ to build a public project,” Favre’s attorneys wrote in a May 15, 2023, filing asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to dismiss him from the case. The filing also noted that MDHS “does not allege that Favre had any authority to direct or approve the funds’ use or that he was aware that the Prevacus transaction involved TANF funds.”

In response to Favre’s petition for dismissal on May 30, attorneys for MDHS rejected the football star’s claim that he is not civilly culpable.

“Mississippi’s largest welfare fraud is the subject of MDHS’s lawsuit. The key wrongdoers—all of whom have pleaded guilty to criminal fraud—are former MDHS executive director John Davis; Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) directors Nancy New and Zach New; and Family Resource Center (FRC) director Christi Webb,” the filing says. “MDHS seeks to recover the misspent TANF funds from those who aided these fraudsters and benefitted from their frauds. Brett Favre is one of those people.”

“Favre took $1.1 million in TANF funds from Nancy New for speeches he never made,” the filing continued. “Favre repaid that, but he has neither repaid the $1.7 million he arranged for his drug company, Prevacus, to receive in exchange for giving Nancy New stock, nor the $5 million he orchestrated the USM Athletic Department to receive for a volleyball facility.”

Text messages released last year showed that Favre repeatedly pressed Davis, New and former Gov. Phil Bryant for help funding the volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter was playing volleyball, between 2017 and 2020. Other texts show that he also repeatedly spoke with New and Bryant about Prevacus. None of Favre’s texts, however, specifically mentioned using welfare funds.

Bryant has repeatedly denied knowing that TANF funds were going toward the projects. Investigators have not accused the former governor of a crime.

You can examine the text messages and other documents related to the volleyball stadium using our comprehensive timeline.

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