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NFL Legend Brett Favre Tries to Spike Mississippi Agency’s Welfare Fraud Lawsuit, Claims It ‘Outrageously Instigated’ Negative Publicity

Brett Favre via Fox Nation

Brett Favre via Fox Nation

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre is trying to toss a Mississippi state agency’s lawsuit over his alleged involvement in a multi-million welfare fraud scheme.

In a motion to dismiss filed Monday, Favre says that he was wrongly named as a defendant in the Mississippi Department of Human Services’ lawsuit against dozens of defendants, including sports stars and businesses.

As Law&Crime previously reported, Favre has been linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the state. According to an MDHS lawsuit, at least $77 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds were diverted from its intended recipients — poor and needy families — and instead went to people who, to say the least, did not need the assistance.

Favre allegedly received $1.1 million from the TANF program — $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018 — for speeches that he never gave at events he never attended, according to Mississippi State Auditor Shad White. Favre has also been implicated in a plan to secure millions in funding for a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played volleyball from 2017 to 2022.

Six people have been arrested and charged with conspiracy and theft, and five so far have pleaded guilty — including former MDHS head John Davis, who said he would cooperate with the prosecution. Favre has not been charged with a crime.

In the motion to dismiss, attorney Eric Herschmann — who has also represented former President Donald Trump — argues that the blame for the misappropriation of funds lies squarely with the state.

“Brett Favre has done nothing wrong,” Herschmann insisted in the motion to dismiss. “MDHS does not and cannot allege that he did, and its claims against him and his company must be dismissed. It is apparent that MDHS has sued Favre, a Mississippi and national celebrity, in an effort to deflect responsibility for its own egregious wrongdoing in allowing $94 million of its public funds to be misspent—funds for which MDHS itself admits it was ‘exclusively responsible.’ There is no factual or legal basis to include Favre in this lawsuit or for the torrent of the unjustified negative publicity concerning Favre that MDHS has outrageously instigated — publicity that properly should be directed at MDHS, not Favre.”

Herschmann accuses the MDHS of chasing clout and celebrity instead of the true wrongdoers.

“Including Favre in this lawsuit has had the intended effect — it has attracted national media attention to this case, with the focus on MDHS’s false insinuations concerning Favre’s supposed involvement, rather than on MDHS, which in fact is responsible for allowing this scandal to occur,” Herschmann writes, adding in a footnote that Gov. Tate Reeves (R) had fired the attorney who had originally brought the case because, according to Tate, the attorney was “much more interested in chasing a political angle than he is in focusing on what’s best for the state.”

The motion also says that Favre voluntarily returned the funds after learning that it came from the needy families fund.

“Once Favre was informed that he had received TANF money, he voluntarily returned it, completing the repayment more than six months before MDHS filed this lawsuit, and leading State Auditor White to ‘applaud Mr. Favre for his good faith effort to make this right and make the taxpayers and TANF families whole,'” the motion says. “In other words, Favre has already repaid to MDHS the only funds MDHS alleges he received. MDHS is so intent on trying to shift the blame for its own egregious misconduct that it ignores this and other dispositive facts that prove that its claims against Favre are not only meritless, but sanctionable.”

According to reports, Favre has indeed returned the funds he received, although he has not paid the interest on those amounts.

Herschmann is a Republican lawyer who defended Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial, although in testimony to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, he was highly critical of Trump allies who pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win was due to election fraud.

According to the filing, Favre is also represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres, LLP, another of Trump’s frequently retained law firms.

“While MDHS understands there is an exceptional amount of publicity surrounding this case, we don’t try cases in the press,” MDHS spokesperson Mark Jones told Law&Crime in an email. “We will allow the court’s rulings be the final word on this matter.”

In a statement, Herschmann expressed confidence that Favre would be vindicated.

“MDHS’s lawsuit is nothing more than a baseless attempt to blame Brett Favre for its own failure to oversee the welfare funds placed in its trust,” Herschmann said. “Mr. Favre never had any control over how Mississippi spent its welfare funds. He never made any misrepresentations to anyone. As the State Auditor has acknowledged, Mr. Favre never knew welfare funds were involved in the first place. Once he found out, he returned all of the funds he received—six months before MDHS filed its lawsuit. As the State Auditor also has acknowledged, Mr. Favre’s conduct deserves applause, not a frivolous lawsuit. We believe that after the Court reviews our motion, this case will be dismissed.”

Read Favre’s motion, via Outkick, here.

Editor’s note: this story was updated to remove a line that incorrectly stated Kasowitz Benson Torres was representing Trump in the Mar-a-Lago matter.

[Image via screengrab/Fox Nation.]

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