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Former Mississippi Governor Exchanges Texts With Brett Favre Over Volleyball Facility Funding At Alma Mater

By Carmen Roxanna (Hattiesburg, MS) – The Mississippi Free Press obtained through a public-records request to Governor Tate Reeves’ office, several text messages between the former Governor and Brett Favre discussing the disbursement of state funds for volleyball facilities at his alma mater, University of South Mississippi. According to the publication, prior to Reeves’ seat as governor, the Mississippi Department of Human Services directed $5 million in Temporary Assistance For Needy Families welfare funds to build a volleyball facility at USM, where Favre’s daughter, Breleigh Favre, began her volleyball career that same year. However even after receiving assistance from MDHS officials, Favre still owed the university at least $1.6 million for the project upon its completion in January 2020.

On January 27, 2022, Favre asked Governor Reeves if he was free to talk. “Yes sir,” Reeves replied. Another text from Favre to Reeves later that afternoon indicated the two discussed the volleyball facility during their phone call. “Failed to mention but there will be state programs using the facility like seminars,teen rallies,obesity campaigns etc…,” Favre wrote at 3:55 p.m. “Again thanks I know you have many requests,” Favre added. The text messages do not include a response from Reeves to any of those messages.

Bryant revealed those text messages in September court filings as part of a civil case over misspent TANF funds. Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in the steering of welfare funds to the volleyball stadium, though plans for the project even included naming the building after him, according to one of the text messages.

Bryant revealed those text messages in September court filings as part of a civil case over misspent TANF funds. Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in the steering of welfare funds to the volleyball stadium, though plans for the project even included naming the building after him, according to one of the text messages.

Bryant revealed those text messages in September court filings as part of a civil case over misspent TANF funds. Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in the steering of welfare funds to the volleyball stadium, though plans for the project even included naming the building after him, according to one of the text messages.

Nancy New, a friend of Bryant’s wife Deborah, ran a nonprofit that was in charge of spending tens of millions of flexible federal welfare dollars outside of public view. What followed was the biggest public fraud case in state history, according to the state auditor’s office. Forensic auditors found at least $77 million in funds that were supposed to help the needy were misspent by nonprofit leaders. New pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts related to the scheme, and Davis awaits trial. But neither Bryant nor Favre have been charged with any crime.

Hours after the arrests that included the former director and nonprofit operator, Favre sent a text message to Gov. Reeves at 2:53 p.m. on February 5, 2020 that said: “Tate a classmate of Deanna (Favre’s wife) and myself Desmond Hoda is a candidate for chiropractic board and asked if I would put a good word in,” Favre wrote. “I wouldn’t if I didn’t think he was worthy. Not sure how good a chiropractor he is but he is a helluva guy!!!”

Before Governor Reeve could respond, Favre followed up with a text about the volleyball stadium and a nearby beach volleyball facility that were already complete, despite the former NFL star still owing money to his alma mater. According to the Mississippi Free Press, Favre texted, “Also Deanna and I want to show you the facility and it would only be us. I want you to see what you’re trying to help me for. … Oh Todd said y’all may go to the concert Friday if so we may tag along and if time permits we show you facility.” Reeves responds to the text about Hoda, a chiropractor in Diamondhead, Miss., but they do not show a response to Favre’s invitation to tour the volleyball stadium. “Great timing,” Reeves wrote. “We were just talking about Hoda earlier today! I will definitely appoint him based on your recommendation (or really Deanna’s -HA)! TR.”

“Well said”, Favre replied.

In July 2022, Brad Pigott, a private attorney hired by the state to lead MDHS’s civil case, issued subpoenas to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation asking for copies of communications with Brett Favre, Nancy New, Phil Bryant and wife Deborah Bryant, and Ted DiBiase, Jr.

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