Y’all Politics first reported the former Attorney General’s recommendation and IHL approval weeks ago.
After months of speculation, NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is now speaking out through his new attorney, challenging the assumptions and a media narrative that has run rampant as state and federal prosecutors continue to delve into criminal and civil cases against persons who knowingly and intentionally misused welfare dollars.
Favre has maintained that he did not know where the funds he was seeking to help the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) construct a volleyball and wellness center were coming from within the state.
The former USM quarterback sent a statement to Fox News Digital which published early Tuesday morning.
“I have been unjustly smeared in the media,” Favre said in a statement provided exclusively to Fox News Digital. “I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.”
Favre went on to tell Fox News Digital:
“No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me. I tried to help my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.
“State agencies provided the funds to Nancy New’s charity, the Mississippi Community Education Center, which then gave the funds to the University, all with the full knowledge and approval of other State agencies, including the State-wide Institute for Higher Learning, the Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office.
“I was told that the legal work to ensure that these funds could be accepted by the university was done by State attorneys and State employees.”
The fact that the Mississippi Attorney General’s office reviewed and recommended the approval of the project to the Institutions of Higher Learning, which ultimately voted to approve it as well, was first reported here at Y’all Politics.
Documents obtained by Y’all Politics show that former Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Ganucheau under the supervision of then-Attorney General Jim Hood was assigned to the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) to, among other things, provide legal advice on construction projects at universities and to work with the agency’s Contracts and Grants office to review and draft contracts.
Ganucheau recommended the Institutions of Higher Learning approve the lease that allowed the use of the Department of Human Services funds to construct the USM facility not once, but twice in a matter of months.
However, the welfare funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were specifically not to be used for construction projects. Yet, the IHL and the Attorney General’s office reviewed and approved a lease structure involving a non-profit entity and a foundation at USM that prefunded lease payments, essentially providing the construction dollars.
Favre was also paid $1.1 million for speaking engagements and radio spots. The Auditor’s office has said multiple times that he never made the speeches.
Fox News Digital reported this morning that Favre’s attorney, Eric Herschmann, told them that Favre was never asked to appear for speaking events. According to Herschmann, Favre recorded commercials for the radio and never “no showed” a speaking event.
“Brett got paid for doing every radio spot that was requested,” Herschmann told Fox News. “He never got paid for a ‘no show’ appearance. Anyone who has claimed otherwise, does not know the true facts.”
Favre was paid from Department of Human Services funds and the Auditor’s office made demand on the football star to return the funds, which he has done.
“After I found out the money I was paid for fundraising radio spots came from federal welfare funds, I returned all of it,” Favre’s statement to Fox News Digital continued.
Herschman, Favre’s attorney, told Fox News that Favre “had no idea that the payment came from TANF and had he known, he never would have accepted that money.”
The Auditor’s office maintains that Favre still owes the interest accrued on the funds.