Lawyers for former NFL star Brett Favre filed court papers in Mississippi on Monday to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him related to a state welfare fraud scandal.
Favre was sued in May by the state welfare agency after he received $1.1 million in federal welfare funds intended to lift children out of poverty in America’s poorest state.
Instead of helping families, the state says, Favre was paid to “speak at three different public events and a keynote address.” But he says there were never any speeches.
Favre’s lawyers say he and his organization, Favre Enterprises LLC, repaid the funds and that Mississippi officials are to blame for the waste.
“Mr. Favre never had any control over how Mississippi spent its welfare funds. He never made false statements to anyone,” Eric Herschmann, one of the attorneys, said in a statement, adding that the football star never knew that the money was for the welfare program. “We believe that after the court reviews our motion, this case will be dismissed.”
Favre paid the $1.1 million at the end of 2021, but Mississippi State Auditor Shad White maintains he still owes $228,000 in interest accrued during the time he had the funds.
“It is ludicrous to claim that Mr. Favre has been singled out in any way,” Logan Reeves, a spokesman for the state auditor’s office, said in a statement. “As far as our office is concerned, Mr. Favre remains liable for $228,000 in breach interest on the subject contract.”
In addition to the $1.1 million, Favre also lobbied state officials to spend $5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for the construction of a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played volleyball.
He also sent a text message to the then-governor. Phil Bryant to push for state money to be invested in a Florida-based experimental pharmaceutical company where Favre was the largest independent investor, according to the state.
The pharmaceutical company joined forces with Favre to promote a nasal spray to treat concussions. That drug, Prevasol, has passed a first round of clinical trial testing to determine its safety, but has so far not been shown to be effective in reversing the effects of concussions in humans.
Six people have been charged with what state and federal officials call a massive fraud scheme to squander state welfare funds, including the former head of the state welfare agency, which is cooperating with the FBI and federal prosecutors.
Five of the six have pleaded guilty. The sixth person was referred to a program that offers the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution.
Favre has not been charged and there is no indication that he is under investigation.