Attorneys for former NFL star Brett Favre filed court papers in Mississippi on Monday seeking to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him tied 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 the poorest state in America.
Instead of helping families, the state says, Favre was paid to “speak at three different public events and one keynote address.” But it says no speeches ever occurred.
Favre’s attorneys say that he and his organization, Favre Enterprises LLC, repaid the funds and that Mississippi officials are to blame for the misspending.
“Mr. Favre never had any control over how Mississippi spent its welfare funds. He never made any misrepresentations to anyone,” Eric Herschmann, one of the attorneys, said in a statement, adding that the football star never knew the money was for the welfare program. “We believe that after the court reviews our motion, this case will be dismissed.”
Favre paid back the $1.1 million in late 2021, but Mississippi State Auditor Shad White maintains that he still owes $228,000 in interest that accrued during the time that he had the funds.
“It’s ludicrous to assert Mr. Favre has been singled out in any way,” Logan Reeves, a spokesperson 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 interest for nonperformance of the contract in question.”
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 the sport.
He also texted then-Gov. Phil Bryant to push for state money to be invested in a Florida-based experimental drug company where Favre was the single largest independent investor, according to the state.
The drug 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 for safety but has so far not been shown to be effective in reversing the effects of concussions in humans.
Six people have been charged in what state and federal officials call a massive fraud scheme to misspend state welfare funds, including the former director of the state welfare agency, who 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 he’s a subject of the investigation.