Skip to content
MCEC files response to former Governor...

MCEC files response to former Governor Bryant in MDHS lawsuit

By: Sarah Ulmer - October 4, 2022

Nancy New, who with her son, Zachary, ran a private education company in Mississippi, pleads guilty to state charges of misusing public money that was intended to help some of the poorest people in the nation, at Hinds County Circuit Court on April 26, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. New court documents Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, show the Mississippi governor in 2017 knew of a plan for New's nonprofit group to pay Brett Favre more than $1 million in welfare grant money so the retired NFL quarterback could help fund a volleyball facility. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

MCEC claims that all of Bryant’s related documents should be submitted due to relevance in the suit brought by MDHS. 

The Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), previously run by Nancy New, has filed a response to former Governor Phil Bryant’s 70-page response in the lawsuit filed by the Mississippi State Department of Human Services (MDHS) against MCEC.

New, along with her son Zach, previously pleaded guilty to state and federal charges in this matter.

The attorneys defending New in the MDHS civil lawsuit claims that Bryant’s response “makes one thing abundantly clear: he is desperate to avoid public scrutiny of his text messages concerning welfare funds used to build the Volleyball Facility at USM.”

RELATED: Former Governor files response in civil lawsuit tied to MDHS misspending

Bryant maintained in his response that he was not aware of the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars from MDHS to the athletic construction project at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and provided some text messages between he and former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, indicating that the project stay above board.

However, MCEC claims that because Bryant did not provide all of his text communications, asserting executive privilege for what was not included, he has opted for obfuscation instead of transparency.

“MCEC respectfully submits that the evidence before the Court is more than sufficient to show that Bryant’s text messages, and the other documents sought pursuant to the subpoena, are relevant to issues raised by the claims or defenses of the parties. Therefore, Bryant should be required to produce them,” MCEC wrote.

MCEC argues that the standard on motion to compel is relevant, and that they are entitled to Bryant’s documents to any matter that surrounds these issues. They disagree with Bryant’s interpretation that the standard is not strict.

The group’s attorneys also claim that Bryant directed Nancy New, the defendant, to provide funds to Brett Favre in the amount of $1.1 million for speaking and promotional events.

Ultimately, the MCEC counterclaim alleges that: 

“MDHS seeks to reframe its historically ‘broad’ and ‘flexible’ view of a Permissible Grant Expenditure into a narrow, strictly construed interpretation of Miss. Code Ann. § 43-17-1(4) that is inconstant with every federal and state authority upon which the TANF program is based.”14 The Counterclaims goes on to state, “MDHS has had a 25-year love affair with TANF’s extreme flexibility. MDHS cannot now divest itself of its contractual obligations simply because it is politically and financially expedient to do so.”

You can read the full response below: 

148-main (1).pdf by yallpolitics on Scribd



About the Author(s)
author profile image

Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: