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Mississippi argues Brett Favre should remain in welfare lawsuit after motion to dismiss

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The Mississippi Department of Human Services argued last week that NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre should remain a target in a lawsuit attempting to recover millions in misspent welfare money. 

Favre’s lawyers filed a second motion in February to dismiss a complaint by the Mississippi Department of Human Services against the former NFL quarterback.

Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre throws before a game between the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Favre played for Southern Miss.

Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre throws before a game between the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Favre played for Southern Miss. (Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports)

“Favre’s submission is not a motion to dismiss; it is a long press release,” state court documents filed March 13 say.

“The Court should disregard Favre’s diatribe and inadmissible exhibits and, based on the well-pleaded allegations of the First Amended Complaint, deny his Motion to Dismiss.” 

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The state of Mississippi is suing 38 people or companies in an attempt to reclaim $24 million of $77 million in federal welfare money, according to a report by Mississippi Today. 

Favre, who helped raise money for a University of Southern Mississippi volleyball center, has denied knowing a $5 million grant for the volleyball facility came from a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare fund through the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), a nonprofit operated by Nancy New. 

TANF funds are not permitted for “brick and mortar” construction projects.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre shows his support by wearing the Tom Brady version of the Bucco Bruce vintage Bucs T-shirt before a game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 20, 2020, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre shows his support by wearing the Tom Brady version of the Bucco Bruce vintage Bucs T-shirt before a game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 20, 2020, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“It is apparent that MDHS has sued Favre, a Mississippi and national celebrity, to try to deflect responsibility for its own egregious wrongdoing in allowing tens of millions of dollars of its public funds to be misspent — funds for which MDHS itself admits it was ‘exclusively responsible,’” the February filing by Favre’s lawyers, including Eric D. Herschmann, said, according to The Associated Press. 

At the center of Favre’s involvement was $1.1 million he received for fundraising that Favre reportedly gave to the university to assist in building the volleyball center. 

Favre returned the $1.1 million after he discovered the money came from federal welfare funds. 

In December, the MDHS dropped its $1.1 million demand of Favre and made a new demand of up to $5 million against Favre and the university sports foundation, saying the money used for the volleyball facility was improperly used. 

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As previously reported by Fox News Digital, text messages between Favre and New in October 2017 generated new interest in Favre’s involvement because they seem to suggest Favre was concerned with the origin of the money he was to be paid. 

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre heads to the sidelines after he throws a pass intercepted by the Chicago Bears' Julius Peppers during the first quarter of a game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Dec. 20, 2010.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre heads to the sidelines after he throws a pass intercepted by the Chicago Bears’ Julius Peppers during the first quarter of a game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Dec. 20, 2010. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

In those texts, Favre asked New if the public would be able to find out where the money came from. 

“If you were to pay me is there anyway for the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre asked New in a text message. 

Favre’s lawyers told Fox News Digital in October 2022 that Favre was concerned over the media learning that he was being paid by a not-for-profit, and not that the money was coming from a fund intended for the needy, as he had no knowledge that the money came from the welfare fund. 

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“Brett entered into a private agreement to record a publicity pitch for a not-for-profit,” Herschmann said. “Like most celebrities, he didn’t want his source of income to be public. That’s why he asked would it become public.

“He had no idea that the payment came from TANF, and, had he known, he never would have accepted that money.” 

Former NFL player Brett Favre walks off the 10th tee box during the Celebrity Foursome in the second round of the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Club June 11, 2022, in Madison, Wis. 

Former NFL player Brett Favre walks off the 10th tee box during the Celebrity Foursome in the second round of the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Club June 11, 2022, in Madison, Wis.  (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

State Auditor Shad White, who first discovered the misspending and fraud, hopped on Twitter Monday to point out what he says is new information found in the latest court documents. 

White shared a portion of the filing, which he says is a new set of text messages from Favre. 

“Favre asked, ‘Would this also solve the brick and mortar issue?’” the filing states. 

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“Again, Favre knew that grant funds could not be used for brick and mortar construction, but he sought to secretly obtain those funds for that purpose anyway. He asked, ‘Will the public perception be that I became a spokesperson for various state funded shelters, schools, homes, etc. … and was compensated with state money? Or can we keep this confidential’” 

In a Twitter thread, White said, “The public already knew Favre knew he was receiving public money.

“But the new texts make it clear Favre knew he was receiving ‘grant’ money intended to benefit people in state funded shelters, schools, homes, etc.’ In other words, the poor.”

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 17, 2018.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

In February, Favre filed defamation suits in federal court in Hinds County, Mississippi, against White, Fox Sports personality Shannon Sharpe and sports podcast host Pat McAfee over Favre’s alleged involvement in the Mississippi welfare fraud case.  

“Brett Favre has spent his life helping the citizens of Mississippi,” a spokesman for Favre told Fox News Digital. “Shad White should learn from Brett. Shad needs to stop attacking Brett to try to further his political career and instead focus on doing his job. We look forward to winning this defamation case.”

Favre has not been criminally charged in the case. 

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