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Brett Favre Mississippi welfare scandal

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On Monday, a federal judge dismissed Brett Favre’s defamation lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe for connecting and criticizing Favre’s involvement in the Mississippi welfare scandal that has kept the Hall of Fame quarterback in hot water for the past year.

In February, Brett Favre sued Sharpe, claiming Sharpe made “egregiously false” statements about Favre’s involvement in the welfare scandal on the Fox Sports talk show Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.

According to AP, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ruled that Sharpe, a retired NFL player and sports broadcaster, was using “rhetorical hyperbole” when he said on-air that Favre was “taking from the underserved,” and that he “stole money from people that really needed that money.”

In his ruling, Judge Starrett wrote that Sharpe’s words were examples of First Amendment-protected speech.

“Similarly, Sharpe’s use of the words ‘people that really needed that money,’ the ‘lowest of the low,’ and ‘the underserved,’ again are examples of protected, colorful speech referring to needy families in Mississippi,” Judge Starrett wrote. “Here, no reasonable person listening to the Broadcast would think that Favre actually went into the homes of poor people and took their money — that he committed the crime of theft/larceny against any particular poor person in Mississippi.” 

Favre also filed defamation suits against sports commentator and former college kicker, Pat McAfee as well as Shad White, the State Auditor who revealed that Favre was linked to the alleged fraud scheme. According to the suit, “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.”

But White and his media relations team say everything White said about Brett Favre was true and believe the facts support that claim.

“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, said media relations director Fletcher Freeman.

“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.”

Text messages revealed last year suggested that former Gov. Phil Bryant helped channel at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds into a volleyball stadium project for Brett Favre and the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Favre’s daughter plays volleyball for the university, and he received most of the fundraising credit for the project.

The text messages also allegedly revealed that Phil Bryant guided Favre through writing the funding proposal to make sure it was suitable for the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Favre also asked Bryant how the new agency director might affect their plans to fund the volleyball stadium. Bryant told Favre, “I will handle that… long story but had to make a change. But I will call Nancy and see what it will take.”

Other messages showed Favre received a separate $1.1 million welfare contract to promote the volleyball program and was also paid $1.1 million in federal welfare funds in 2017 and 2018 for motivational speeches he allegedly never gave.

The auditor revealed that $70 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare funds were dished out to a multimillionaire athlete, a professional wrestler, a horse farm and a volleyball complex.


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