Brett Favre is going to court to try to get the stench of alleged welfare fraud off his name.
The NFL Hall of Famer is the most famous person associated with a scandal involving state-level officials in Mississippi misspending federal dollars meant for welfare recipients in the country’s poorest state by per-capita income. Favre isn’t charged with any crimes although several public officials have been. But he is being sued by the state of Mississippi, which is trying to recover as much of the cash as possible in a civil lawsuit that names multiple defendants.
Favre wants no part of it, and his attorneys yesterday filed a motion seeking to have him removed from the case.
“Including Favre in this lawsuit has had the intended effect — it has attracted national media attention to this case,” Favre’s attorney, Eric D. Herschmann, wrote in the filing in Hinds County Circuit Court.
Herschmann wrote that the lawsuit focuses on the welfare agency’s “false insinuations concerning Favre’s supposed involvement” rather than on the agency, “which in fact is responsible for allowing this scandal to occur.”
Favre is among several politically connected people to have received some of the Mississippi welfare money. In one instance he got $1.1 million in fees for public speaking for a nonprofit organization authorized to distribute public funds. Favre, who grossed $127.8 million over a 20-year football career, has paid back that cash, but Mississippi says he owes more than $200,000 in interest that Favre insists he shouldn’t be on the hook for.
While the $1.1 million has been known publicly for years, Favre got more closely tied to the welfare case this year when text messages were made public in which he advocates to state officials to pony up $5 million for a new athletic facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he played college football and where his daughter played volleyball.