Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Favre Blames Phil, Wants Clawback Suit Tossed

 This post is a reprint of Anna Wolfe's story that appeared in Mississippi Today Monday. 

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre nagged former Gov. Phil Bryant for help funding a new volleyball facility at his alma mater and a pharmaceutical start-up he had invested in.

Bryant’s subordinates then funneled a total of $7.1 million in federal welfare funds to the two projects, plus another $1.1 million to Favre himself, within what officials have called the worst public fraud scheme in state history.

Favre now says he’s receiving all the blame while officials are letting Bryant off the hook.

In a new motion to dismiss civil charges against him, Favre argues the state welfare department, Mississippi Department of Human Services, has neglected the roles of former Gov. Bryant and the auditor Bryant appointed, Shad White, in the misspending of millions of welfare funds.

“MDHS also has ignored the numerous public officials responsible for overseeing MDHS, such as former Governor Dewey Phillip Bryant and current State Auditor Shad White, who, despite his statutory obligation to conduct annual audits of MDHS, did not ‘question’ MDHS’s transfers of tens of millions of dollars to MCEC (Mississippi Community Education Center) until 2020, nearly five years after those transfers began,” reads Favre’s motion, filed by his Austin, TX-based attorney Eric Herschmann.

The welfare department’s civil suit, filed last May, alleges Favre agreed with MDHS Director John Davis and nonprofit founder Nancy New to transfer $2.1 million in funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to a pharmaceutical company called Prevacus, in which Favre was a major stakeholder. The suit also alleges Favre took $1.1 million in TANF funds for work he didn’t conduct. 


 

Favre denies both allegations, alleging MDHS has fixated on the two items Favre publicly supported — Prevacus and the volleyball project — as a way of “blaming Favre, publicizing his involvement, and bringing its baseless claims against him in this lawsuit.”

The civil suit, which targets 38 individuals or companies, only seeks to recoup $24 million of at least $77 million that forensic auditors found was misspent. Favre argued MDHS is “selectively suing only a fraction of those who allegedly received the funds, while inexplicably ignoring the numerous other recipients.”

 

Favre has received significant national coverage in recent months for his proximity to a deal in which officials converted $5 million in welfare funds to build a state-of-the-art facility for University of Southern Mississippi’s volleyball program, where his daughter played. The fraud scheme, which involved dressing up the stadium to appear as a wellness center for impoverished Mississippians, led to a criminal conviction against New’s son Zach New.

Favre has not faced any charges in connection with that deal. Gov. Tate Reeves directed the welfare agency not to include the volleyball project — the largest known purchase within the scandal — in its civil suit.

But in his motion, Favre called out the former governor and others for perpetuating the scheme.

“Davis and New did not (and could not have) authorized structuring the $5 million in funding as a sublease on their own,” the filing reads. “They needed and obtained the approval and assistance of other State officials and agencies—including Governor Bryant, the Attorney General, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Southern Miss itself, and the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation.”

The motion also confirms that then-Southern Miss Athletic Director Jon Gilbert introduced Favre to New, who sat on the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation board.

“New was well connected with numerous Mississippi officials, including Davis and then-Governor Bryant, and close friends with Governor Bryant’s wife Deborah Bryant,” it said.

The money in question flowed through New’s nonprofit, Mississippi Community Education Center, or MCEC, and therefore out of sight from public view. Favre zoned in on New’s connections to state officials, even corralling current Gov. Reeves into his rebuttal.

“State officials like Davis, former Governor Bryant, and current Governor Reeves were aware that New, through MCEC, used State money to provide services and funding to various State initiatives, through, among other things, the Family First Initiative of Mississippi, an anti-poverty program which was started by Governor Bryant in conjunction with other state officials,” his filing reads. “Deborah Bryant and New hosted fundraisers together at the governor’s mansion. Governor Reeves even filmed a campaign ad in 2019 at New’s school.”

For years, the misspending went unnoticed by the state auditor’s office as MDHS dismantled internal controls, failing to keep so much as a list of organizations it funded.

Bryant appointed White, his former campaign manager, to state auditor in July of 2018. White’s investigation into welfare misspending began after an MDHS employee brought a small tip about Davis’ potential fraud to Bryant in June 2019.

White made six arrests in the case, including Davis and New, in February 2020. The payments to Prevacus were central to the indictment. A day earlier, Bryant had scheduled a meeting with Prevacus’ founder Jake Vanlandingham, a Florida neuroscientist who offered the governor stock in the company in exchange for his help, according to texts Mississippi Today obtained two years later. The texts showed Favre had even excitedly texted Bryant to tell the governor when they finally started receiving funding from the state in early 2019.

Days after the arrest, Bryant cut ties with the scientist and White publicly named Bryant as the “whistleblower” in the case.

“State Auditor White—who was previously Governor Bryant’s campaign manager and policy director and was appointed State Auditor by Governor Bryant—made this (whistleblower) designation knowing that Governor Bryant was both aware of and supported MCEC’s payments to Prevacus at issue in this lawsuit, as well as its $5 million payment to Southern Miss in connection with the construction of a wellness center,” Favre’s filing reads.

In Favre’s motion, his first significant jab in the case, the athlete argues that the welfare department has targeted him for his celebrity in an attempt to divert attention away from its own wrongdoing.

Mississippi Today first connected Favre to the welfare scandal in February 2020 in its reporting on the welfare-funded volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi and Favre’s attempts to lure Prevacus to Mississippi with Bryant’s help. White made the first official finding against Favre in his annual audit released in May of 2020. The report noted that his company, Favre Enterprises, received $1.1 million under a promotional contract, including supposed appearances at which “the individual contracted did not speak nor was he present for those events.”

Favre has repeatedly denied that he failed to fulfill the terms of his agreement with the nonprofit. Mississippi Today obtained a 2018 invoice that shows conservative talk radio network SuperTalk ran Favre’s ad promoting Families First more than two dozen times during a three-month period.

“As to the $1.1 million MCEC paid Favre,” Favre’s motion reads, “it did so in exchange for Favre agreeing to perform services for MCEC, including recording a radio advertisement promoting Families First of Mississippi, a program launched by Governor Bryant, in conjunction with MDHS and MCEC, to provide services to needy Mississippians.”

Favre returned the $1.1 million — a fact he laments is missing from MDHS’s complaint — but the auditor’s office maintains that he still owes interest on the funds.

“It’s ludicrous to say that Mr. Favre has been singled out in any way,” the auditor’s office said in a statement Monday evening. “And as far as our office is concerned, Mr. Favre remains liable for $228,000 in interest for nonperformance of the contract in question.”

 Kingfish note: Posted below is the motion.  MT doesn't post such documents as it once did.   I will be tied up for a couple of hours so here it is. 

 

 

I can't resist posting this video for anyone named "Lorenzo." 

 

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who's Afraid of Anna Wolfe?

More deflection said...

Favre is now a victim. Got it.

Anonymous said...

Denied….Next

Anonymous said...

Someone please tell me where the other baszillion dollars went. I do see his point though. Why aren't the politicians being pursued?

Anonymous said...

He's got a point.

It's absolute insanity the lack of controls our government had for this spending.

It is literally bozos telling other clowns what to do. The Attorney General gave an opinion on the spending that it was good to go.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan, but he's right. State officials have the first and most responsibility, including Feel. The law just works that way. Farve was not responsible for knowing TANF laws but Feel and his cronies all were. Not a fan, but the boy has a point.

Anonymous said...

our government is broken

Anonymous said...

Depty Feel is too big to fail. Translation: He knows where the skeletons are buried.

Anonymous said...

You folks are sheep.

He's only been sued for the $1.1 million--not the volleyball money. That means most of what the attorney wrote is COMPLETELY irrelevant to the case.

This is classic smoke and mirrors, and all the people saying "he has a point" have fallen for what this filing really is--a PR stunt to get ahead of what's coming from Jody.

Anonymous said...

welcome to under the bus, brett

Anonymous said...

2:40 gets it.

Anonymous said...

Too many Favre haters on there, or maybe just plain jealous.

First and foremost, Favre has been saying for YEARS that he probably has CTE. So good luck trying to send him to jail. Second, it's not his job to opine on whether state money is used appropriately. Money is fungible. He did not care if it came from Medicaid, IHL, DOT or UMMC. He just asked for funding. People INSIDE state government concocted the scheme of where to get it.

It's been said here for months, but I'll say it again. That's the governor and the AG's job to know if it is legal or not.

Anonymous said...

According to court documents, Favre texted New on Aug. 3, 2017: “If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?”

New responded: “No, we never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that though. Let’s see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks at Southern. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully.”

Favre responded: “Ok thanks.”

The next day, New texted Favre: “Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!”

Favre responded: “Awesome I needed to hear that for sure.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2022/09/14/brett-favre-text-messages-mississippi-welfare-scandal/10382544002/

Anonymous said...

I have always felt that Favre was being targeted here. Sure he profited from the use of his name, but I would bet my life he didn’t and couldn’t understand the inner workings of this fraudulent scheme. (I am not sure Phil Bryant was capable of understanding either). Favre has paid the money back, so leave him alone. Believe me, he is being penalized financially I am an alumni of one of the two major universities in the state. If there is more damning evidence against Favre, put it out there?

Anonymous said...

I cant stand that meathead but if everyone would remove personal bias and look at this factually, its clear that Favre is correct.

But that wont happen. The media wants to punish the idiot athlete as if he suddenly became a criminal mastermind that hatched a plan to embezzle millions.
Phil, Nancy, Zach and John...sure. Culpable.

Favre is just a flashy monster for the media to vilify and we peasants love to see a wealthy man fall.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has all of his Rookie & early football cards and met him once in the parking lot of Fresh Market, I can attest to his character and say he did nothing wrong.

Go Pack Go! Brett, you are my hero!!!

Anonymous said...

Shad's career is kaput. What a waste of a har vaard law degree lol

Anonymous said...

KF - great work posting the actual court document. All other media sites, want us to rely on their writer. Journalists are notorious for telling the story in a way to benefit/promote themselves rather than inform the reader.

Anonymous said...

If it is true for him then it is true for everyone else that got the money. Not the responsibility of the recipient to know the legal uses of funding. Gov Bryant got sloppy.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old Rx Pro strategy. Even stranger that no one on here seems to care about their tax dollars anymore.

Anonymous said...

Just because something bad happened doesn't mean a tort has been committed!

Anonymous said...

Happy to see him throw a shot at Shad. I’m sure there are more to come from others. It’s been pretty clear that Shad tried to cover for Phil early on and now he’s toast.

Anonymous said...

The hit job and coverup are coming to light. Phil and Shad should be very nervous.

Anonymous said...

These are Federal funds and the folks in the White House who control these funds are not friends of Phil and the Mississippi leadership. No one can make this go away.

Anonymous said...

What I’ve been saying all alone Ex - MDHS Executive Director John Davis got the approval from the Governor his boss. No one in State Government will award any entity’s over $250,000 without the boss approval.( you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours)

If you think otherwise go back under your rock!

Anonymous said...

Seems those who controlled the TANF funds (held, approved, released) would be responsible.

Anonymous said...

Here's a novel idea: BOTH FAVRE AND PHIL BRYANT ARE GUILTY. Both knew or should have known this was illegal.

Anonymous said...

Phil is toast!! Hahahaha

Wonder who he’ll try and roll on.

Anonymous said...

And don’t forget Phil and Deborah redirecting funds for a palliative care facility to a favored developer and naming it after his wife. I lost respect for him years ago.

Anonymous said...

2:55 - what does it matter if he is being sued for $1.1 million or the 1.1 plus the $5? Either way, he is being sued, and either way, he is having to (1) hire and pay for a lawyer to defend it, and (2) deal with the personal attack.

Yes, he is not being sued for the misuse of $5 million - which he was directly involved in the concept, but not the doing. But as his filing today states, he didn't do it. He agreed to accept $1.1 million to make some radio spots, or appearances (never been clear which - by either side). Shad claims he didn't do anything, but the facts seem to say someing different if there were dozens of Supertalk PSA's recorded.

Were they worth $1.1 million? Who knows. Is Lane Kiffen's poor record against ranked teams worth $9 million? All that is in the eye of the beholder. But if he did make some spots, he at least performed part of his contract - maybe all, who knows without seeing the contract - so his point is the same.

Was the whole deal an absolute crap job? YES. But such is true of much of Phil's term, starting long before the appointment of Davis at MDHS and ending with the prison riots under the failed leadership of his appointee there (you know the one, she took Epp's place when he was shipped off to prison.) But the fact that MDHS ran loose and free with these TANF dollars is the responsibility of those that were establishing the track meets - Davis and his crew working under the direction of folks on the top floor of the Sillers Building; just like they ran loose and free with the move of MDHS out of their facilities on State Street to the plush towers on Lamar Street. And then move partially back to protect a significant contributor and his bank.

Whether Farve will be released from the Clawback suit is a good question, but his lawyer just made it much more interesting. Between him and the barrister from up north and his supeoneas this is going to make the popcorn market enter a potential shortage.

Anonymous said...

A lack of accounting and management controls allows the diversion of tens of millions of federal dollars by politically connected Mississippi fatcats and no one doesn't know nuthin?

Got some small fry indictments and a few million in clawbacks, plus people are still arguing whether Phil's the wistleblower and meantime do we even know if


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Anonymous said...

Covered it up by giving the information to the DA and FBI. Got it.

wanta bid on Feel's antique truck said...

"Why aren't the politicians being pursued?" November 30, 2022 at 2:30 PM

If you know anything about the animal kingdom, you know that animals of one particular stripe do not PURSUE others of the same stripe. Well, unless they intend to mate, which, in layman's terms means they intend to screw each other.

Anonymous said...

Blame Phil he's responsible 不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不 mommmmmmmmmmma there's go that MAN (Tommy Tucker the neighborhood or "community" sucker) again

Anonymous said...

"2:55 - what does it matter if he is being sued for $1.1 million or the 1.1 plus the $5? Either way, he is being sued, and either way, he is having to (1) hire and pay for a lawyer to defend it, and (2) deal with the personal attack." My understanding from reading another article that he is being sued for interest ($228,000) on the $1.1 million as he has paid that back. Don't remember where I read it and don't have time to look right now.

Anonymous said...

Why was it that MS Today exposed all of Phil Bryant’s text messages and all, which clearly reflect deep involvement and even control, and not you who exposed them, Shad?

Tell us at your next Rotary lecture.

Anonymous said...

Phil Billy Bryant never gave state employees raises during his tenure. He said public servants shouldn't expect raises. I see why now, too busy padding his pockets and the pockets of his network of crook with state funds designated for the less fortunate. There's a special room in hell for people who steal from the poor.

Anonymous said...

Miss Republicans are mirroring the National GOP, they are all fighting each other.
The plan is working just fine to destroy the GOP! I can’t wait for the next governors race. Whether it’s Gunn or Hoseman , it’s going to be brutal. Tater is a nasty bully.

Anonymous said...

When did ignorance of the law become a defense?
Everyone who participated in this scheme should be charged.
If you are too stupid to know what's illegal, hire a lawyer before you engage in the activity...not AFTER!

Anonymous said...

The real culprit here is Phil Bryant. Favre can’t be expected to know all the legal requirements of the government grant. Bryant obviously made this fraud happen. If the AGaooroved it, then the AG is also responsible. Who is going to prosecute them? Since the volleyball facility was said to be for poor people, then make that the primary purpose of the facility.

Self-Serving said...

Nothing will happen to Phil, because if he fell so would many others for the thievery of public funds that has taken place for years. (Everybody is doing it).

Y'all don't really think that most of these politicians run for office because they are altruistic, do you?

Anonymous said...

This still twerks the poor dumb athlete pretense: How can Favre claim ignorance of the law for receiving volley ball money and ignorance of its source, when he had to know about Quid Pro Quo after the fact interest in a start-up to be transferred to Bryant right after Bryant left office, as "deferred compensation"?

Anonymous said...

Hopefully they will make a reality show version of The Longest Yard.

Anonymous said...

Really don't understand how Favre can be on the hook for interest for money the State misspent. The whole attempt to use TANF funds to pay for volleyball was a terrible idea and shows bad judgment on his part, and he clearly knew that it at least looked bad, but at the end of the day, it's not his job to make sure MCEC is spending their money in compliance with the grant requirements.

I Scooped Mississippi Today said...

Brett: Hey, Phil...I got the cash and the transfer of my interest in the other gig.

Phil: Great, Dude. I can't accept it until the day after I leave office. Can't have no red flags. Let's meet for drinks. Buffalo Wild Wings in Hattiesburg good with you?

Brett: Sure. Yon't me to arrange a tour of the Volleyball building?

Phil: Sure...I'll bring my gym shorts.

Anonymous said...

@10:16 I think that’s Brett’s point. It’s was DHS’s job and the AG’s job to ensure money was being spent correctly. Not only did DHS and the AG’s office not ensure money was being spent correctly, they approved the expenditures. IHL too. To that point, I don’t see how MCEC is on the hook for these expenditures either if the State approved them. Looks to me like the State f’ed this up and is trying to blame everyone but itself.

Anonymous said...

For the Love of Money - The O’Jays

Anonymous said...

I think when the numbers are crunched, throwing Brett under a bus and saving Phil is not going to add up.

There are at least 5 counties worth of registered voters directly related to Brett. They will forever be lost to far too many present and future trough eaters.

That is without even thinking about all the people who will have to give up cheese for the rest of their lives, for fear it will be poisoned.

Somebody might want to think about how to get these former elected officials and their cronies in front of a judge.

Anonymous said...

Why have assistant attorney generals assigned to each state agency while all they do is rubber stamp. The agency head is totally responsible for monies allocated to his agency with little or no oversight.

I wonder what agency is the worst at overlooking the assistant attorney generals advice. Answer ( the agency that always in the news for the wrong reasons).

As Mike Espy once said you can’t fight the DOJ cause they have unlimited resources. Same as the State Agencies!

The powers to be, lost their freaking minds trying to appease our beloved Football Star.

Anonymous said...

10:02 - Your voting-relative numbers are flat out idiotic and your poisoned-cheese remark makes zero sense. It was late when you posted. Try again now that you've had coffee and are at your state desk.

Anonymous said...

9:04 you obviously know nothing about the lower 6 counties of Mississippi and the crossover of family ties being reinforced since the 1600's.

As far as the cheese is concerned, that would be a lighthearted reference to the countless Green Bay fans. Many still making the pilgrimage to the Broke Spoke.

Forget what time it is, go have yourself an adult beverage. It might help you with that sense of humor you lost.

Anonymous said...

Favre wants to have my cake and your cake and eat them too. What an ass.

Anonymous said...

9:04 you obviously know nothing about the lower 6 counties of Mississippi and the crossover of family ties being reinforced since the 1600's.

Assuming that has validity, what the hell difference could it possibly make? Ladners outnumber Favres by 40 to one and they go to jail frequently. Family ties ain't worth shit in a federal court-room.

Anonymous said...

LMFAO 6:24 you just proved my initial point.

Probably more than 90% of the Ladner's (if not all of them) are cousins with Farve's. That is without rattling of the dozen or so additional, well populated families from the southern half of the state and beyond.

Again, the comment made in "humor", referencing the vast extended family (5 counties worth) and their great pride in one of their most famous kin being served up to take a fall for this incompetence, could have long term consequences.

Not sure what the Ladner's jail record has to do with Phil and Chad not doing their job.

I would study the Farve family tree a little closer, you might learn something about family ties and benches.

Anonymous said...

"He's only been sued for the $1.1 million--not the volleyball money. That means most of what the attorney wrote is COMPLETELY irrelevant to the case."

If I'm not mistaken, the 1.1 was repaid many moons ago. The point of debate now is whether or not he actually owes interest on what the Auditor says is owed.

If criminals gave him ill-gotten (stolen) money, not sure a jury in the land would hold him responsible for knowing it was stolen.


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