Mississippi welfare scandal hits national news; Reeves fires lawyer who tried to get info about who got the money

NEMiss.News Favre, Reeves & Bryant
July 2019: Brett Favre, Tate Reeves and Phil Bryant in a photo Reeves posted on Facebook.
July 25th, 2022     Featured News General News



NEMiss.News Editor:  The shenanigans of former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and others in illegally diverting $77-million in federal welfare money to their cronies are getting national attention. The case first broke in 2020 when State Auditor Shadrack White crowed about the arrests of former DHS Director John Davis, Nancy New, a promoter of private schools, and several others. White, a Bryan protege’, claimed at the time that Bryant was the “whistle blower” in the case, an assertion that came unraveled when it came out that Bryant and his wife Deborah were themselves involved in misdirecting the federal money. Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, a former football hero at the University of Southern Mississippi and a buddy of Bryant and current Governor Tate Reeves, was the beneficiary of several millions, a portion of which he paid back when the scandal came to light.

The case caught a special new wrinkle a few days ago when former U.S. Attorney Brad Pigott, who had been hired by DHS to “claw back” some of the millions, was fired by Reeves after Pigott subpoenaed additional information about the dirty deeds. Reeves himself got donations from New, which he said he “donated to charity” after the case broke 30 months ago. The New York Times, NBC News and several other national news organizations jumped on the story during the weekend just ended. Read on…



Mississippi fires lawyer who was investigating Brett Favre’s potential connection to $5 million payment to Southern Mississippi

The massive, multi-million-dollar welfare scam in Mississippi is an onion with many lawyers and levels. Some have been explored. Some haven’t been. Now, some may be stopping others from the effort to keep peeling.

As reported by Mississippi Today, the state’s welfare department has fired attorney Brad Pigott, who was hired to get to the bottom of the scandal. The firing happened roughly a week after he sent a subpoena to the University of Southern Mississippi aimed at exploring why and how the school received $5 million in welfare funds to build a volleyball stadium.

“All I did, and I believe all that caused me to be terminated from representing the department or having anything to do with the litigation, was to try to get the truth about all of that,” Pigott told Mississippi Today on Friday. “People are going to go to jail over this, at least the state should be willing to find out the truth of what happened.”

Pigott, in seeking more information about the $5 million payment to USM, was exploring the involvement of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, among others. Favre played college football at USM an his daughter played volleyball at the school in 2017 and 2018.

The New York Times pushes the ball a little farther, after separately speaking to Pigott. The lawyer told the Times that Favre had promised to give $5 million to the construction of the volleyball stadium. Pigott claims that Favre, instead of writing the check, asked the Mississippi Community Education Center to fund the project. And the Mississippi Community Education Center was at the heart of the distribution of federal welfare money in a way that has created a major controversy in one of the nation’s poorest states.

Pigott told the Times that the center paid the $5 million, and then “disguised it as a payment for use of university facilities that did not occur.”

“I’m a born and raised Mississippian, and this particular kind of fraud was just an especially offensive failure to use money to serve what [federal] law calls ‘needy families,’ of which we have an excess supply in Mississippi, and do have great, great needs,” Pigott told the Times. “I found it especially offensive that they so cavalierly spent so many millions of dollars intended to remove poverty in this state, and instead spend it on each other and celebrity figures and corporations and their favorite institutions.”

A spokesperson for current Mississippi governor Tate Reeves told the Times as to the firing of Pigott that there are “many capable lawyers who can handle the work necessary to recover stolen [federal] funds” and that “it was decided that a semiretired solo practitioner was not the right person to sign on for more work.”

Pigott seems to believe he wasn’t the right person because he wasn’t the “right” person. The former U.S. Attorney who was appointed by Bill Clinton apparently thinks the firing happened because the work was coming too close to possibly exposing new depths of Favre’s and Bryant’s involvement, and because certain political forces intervened.

“I am sure they can find a loyal Republican lawyer to do the work,” Pigott told Mississippi Today.

Favre was first connected to the scandal via reporting that he received $1.1 million in welfare funds for no-show public appearances and other work. He denied getting paid not to perform services, but he nevertheless paid back the money. Mississippi has since sued him for unpaid interest on the funds.

NEMiss.News 3 part series on MDHS embezzlement scandal (May, June 2020):  Part I (Charges & Evidence), Part II (Key Players),  Part III  (How to get money back?)

To see original NBC Sports post: https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2022/07/24/mississippi-fires-lawyer-who-was-investigating-brett-favres-potential-connection-to-5-million-payment-to-southern-mississippi/

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