Brett Favre, an NFL legend, was publicly embroiled in the Mississippi welfare scam. State Auditor Shad white and Pat McAfee were sued for defamation.
White, whose investigation into welfare fraud led to the 2020 criminal charges against six individuals, is one the most prominent officials to speak out about the scandal. Several times in recent months, White has criticized Favre’s involvement in the scandal and even got into a tense social media back-and-forth The Hall of Fame quarterback.
Attorneys for Favre, who has not been charged with any crime related to the scandal, argued in the new lawsuit that White has “made egregiously false and defamatory statements” in several media appearances.
“Shad White, the State Auditor of Mississippi, has carried out an outrageous media campaign of malicious and false accusations against Brett Favre — the Hall of Fame quarterback and native son of Mississippi — in a brazen attempt to leverage the media attention generated by Favre’s celebrity to further his own political career,” reads Favre’s complaint, filed in Hinds County Circuit Court on Feb. 9.
Favre’s complaint against White continues: “By shamelessly and falsely attacking Favre’s good name, White has gained national media attention he previously could have only dreamed of, including appearances on television shows on CNN and HBO, a popular ESPN podcast, as well as interviews for print and online media. White’s attack on Favre would not have been noticed by any of these national media outlets. White himself acknowledged this, admitting that his own wife was “shocked” by his appearance on the ESPN Daily Podcast.”
Favre also specifies that he’s suing White, not the state of Mississippi, and that he’s seeking damages from White as an individual, not from Mississippi taxpayers.
White’s office released a statement shortly after the lawsuit was filed on Thursday.
”Everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed by years of audit work by the professionals at the Office of the State Auditor,” White’s spokesman Fletcher Freeman said. “It’s mind-boggling that Mr. Favre wants to have a trial about that question. Mr. Favre claimed Auditor White and his staff were liars even though he repaid some money our office demanded. He’s also claimed the auditors are liars despite clear documentary evidence showing he benefitted from misspent funds. Instead of paying New York litigators to try this case, he’d be better off fully repaying the amount of welfare funds he owes the state.”
Favre also sued Shannon Sharpe (media figures) and Pat McAfee (both have popular national platforms for discussing sports news and analysis) for defamation.
“You got to be a sorry mofo to steal from the lowest of the low,” Sharpe said on his television show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed” on Sept. 14, the day after Mississippi Today broke a story revealing that when Favre discussed receiving funding from a welfare-funded nonprofit director, he asked if the public would find out.
“Mississippi is the poorest state in our country — its citizens,” Sharpe continued. “So if they’re the poorest state, Brett Favre is taking from the underserved. In the NFL, you made $100 million. And to talk about, ‘Well, he didn’t know.’ This is what Brett Favre texted: ‘If you were to pay me, is there any way the media can find out where it came from and how much?’ If you’ve got to ask this question, ‘Is there any way the media can find out?’, you already know you’re doing something wrong.”
Mississippi Today’s 2022 “The Backchannel” investigation revealed how Favre received welfare funds for several projects, including funding for his startup pharmaceutical company.
The text messages were never before seen and showed the former governor. Phil Bryant discussed Favre’s proposal to build a new volleyball stadium — construction ultimately funded with welfare funds. Prosecutors referred to the project as a scheme of defrauding government.
Mississippi Today’s reporting found that Favre traded on his own fame and connections to secure a financial bailout from the state of Mississippi.
In the course of Favre’s dealings with state officials on behalf of the pharmaceutical venture or the volleyball stadium, Favre proposed: giving Bryant and nonprofit founder Nancy New shares in the company in exchange for their help; buying the former welfare director John Davis a F-150 Raptor; and convincing New and Davis to pay off a more than $1 million commitment he made to USM.
READ MORE: ‘You stuck your neck out for me’: Brett Favre used fame and favors to pull welfare dollars
Favre was paid $1.1million by the welfare-funded charity in a vague promotion gig. White claims that this included Favre’s appearances at events Favre has never attended. Favre has since returned these funds.
Favre is continuing to fight civil lawsuits that the Mississippi Department of Human Services filed against him and others to recover the welfare funds lost. Favre is alleged to have funneled $7 million from poverty-stricken people into his pocket.
Click here to read Favre’s lawsuit against Auditor Shad White.
Click here to read Favre’s lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe.
Click here to read Favre’s lawsuit against Pat McAfee.