JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre filed a lawsuit Thursday in Mississippi, accusing the state auditor and two sportswriters of defaming him in public discussions about wasted welfare money that was supposed to help some of the world’s worst poor in one of the poorest states in the nation.
The lawsuit against auditor Shad White claims that the Republican “waged an outrageous media campaign of malicious and false allegations against Brett Favre – the Hall of Fame quarterback and Mississippi native – in a blatant attempt to exploit the Media attention generated by Favre’s celebrity furthering his political career”.
Favre isn’t facing criminal charges over the Mississippi welfare scandal, but he’s among more than three dozen individuals or businesses the state is suing to try to recoup badly spent money through the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families.
Favre reimbursed $1.1 million received in conference expenses from a non-profit group that spent TANF money with the approval of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. White said Favre never showed up to deliver the speeches.
In December, the state Department of Human Services filed a new claim of up to $5 million against Favre and a university sports foundation, saying welfare money had been misused to pay for a volleyball arena at the Favre’s alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre’s daughter started playing college volleyball in 2017. The volleyball facility was a pet project of the retired quarterback, and he’s committed to spearheading fundraising for it. Earlier documents in the state’s civil suit show text message exchanges between Favre and others about sending money to the volleyball facility from a nonprofit that had human services contracts.
The lawsuit Favre filed Thursday against the auditor accuses White of “brazenly and falsely attacking Favre’s good name” to draw attention to himself, “including appearances on television shows on CNN and HBO, a popular podcast ESPN, as well as press interviews and online media. None of these national media would have paid the slightest attention to White if he hadn’t attacked Favre.”
Fletcher Freeman, a spokesman for White, said in a statement: “Everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed up by years of audit work by the professionals in the Office of the Auditor. . It is astounding that Mr. Favre would want to go to trial on this matter.”
Freeman also alleged that Favre called White and the auditor’s team liars, despite repaying some of the money the auditor’s office demanded from him.
“He also claimed that the auditors are liars despite clear documentary evidence showing that he benefited from misspent funds,” Freeman said. “Instead of paying New York litigants to try this case, he’d be better off repaying in full the amount of Social Security funds he owes the state.”