FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre is shown during a halftime ceremony of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke, File)
Brett Favre’s attorney says MDHS should look more closely at their mishandling of TANF funds instead of pushing false insinuations against the NFL Hall of Famer.
The attorney for Brett Favre has filed a motion to have the NFL legend removed from the welfare lawsuit currently being pursued by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS). The AP reported the filing first on Monday.
While Favre has not been charged criminally, he is among a large group of persons and organizations from which MDHS is legally seeking to recoup monies that were misspent by the state agency.
The new filing by Favre claims that MDHS “groundlessly and irresponsibly seeks to blame Favre for its own grossly improper and unlawful handling of welfare funds.”
The filing was made in the Hinds County Circuit Court.
Favre’s attorney, Eric D. Herschmann, wrote in the filing that the lawsuit focuses on the welfare agency’s “false insinuations concerning Favre’s supposed involvement.” He says that instead, the agency should be looking inward at their responsibility for allowing the scandal to occur.
“Including Favre in this lawsuit has had the intended effect — it has attracted national media attention to this case,” Herschmann wrote in the court filing.
Favre’s involvement in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund debacle included $1.1 million that he received for speaking engagements tied to the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC). This non-profit was run by Nancy New, one of the accused in the welfare fraud, that spent TANF dollars with approval by MDHS. This spending was later determined to be fraudulent after an investigation by State Auditor Shad White.
While Favre has repaid the $1.1 million, White’s office has determined that Favre still owes $228,000 in interest.
“It’s ludicrous to say Mr. Favre has been singled out in any way. As far as our office is concerned, Mr. Favre remains liable for $228,000 in interest for nonperformance of the contract in question,” said Logan Reeves, Media Relations for White’s office.
In addition, funding for a volleyball court on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) was encouraged by Favre and was approved by MDHS, the Attorney General’s counsel to the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and the IHL Board. The funds flowed through MCEC with New. MDHS has suggested that Favre was aware that the funds would come from TANF dollars meant for needy families, a notion that Favre has pushed back on as well.
“No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me,” Favre told FoxNews Digital last month. “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.”
READ MORE: Favre says he’s been “unjustly smeared”, cites independent IHL and AG vetting of expenditures
Although he was not named as a party in the civil lawsuit, former Governor Phil Bryant was subpoenaed for records regarding the expenditures at the request of the defendants. Some defendants and media reports have insinuated that he approved of the spending, specifically surrounding the USM volleyball facility. However, those proceeds were approved independently by IHL and the Attorney General’s office. In a filing, he provided text message copies between himself and Favre, where his attorney’s maintained that the former Governor was not aware of where the funding for the USM volleyball facility was coming from at the time.
**We previously stated that Bryant was named in the suit. However, he was not named, only subpoenaed for related records**
RELATED: Former Governor files response in civil lawsuit tied to MDHS misspending
New, her son Zachary, and John Davis, former Director of MDHS, have both pleaded guilty to multiple state and federal charges. The three are still awaiting sentencing.
The filing with Favre will be considered by Judge E. Faye Peterson.